The incarceration of ex-Agricultural Minister Andres Felipe Arias in his corruption trial is unjust, his defense attorney claimed Friday.
Arias’ defense lawyer presented his case Friday against denying the former minister bail as the judge ordered a recess until next Tuesday.
The defense argued that denial of bail required an urgent and demonstrable need and that Arias so far has not exhibited any behavior suggesting he will attempt to escape. The defense also noted that Arias has answered every summon to justice so far.
Arias’ attorney also said that the prosecution had not submitted sufficient evidence to show that Arias had obstructed justice.
The ex-minister is accused of embezzling millions of dollars through the Agro Ingresso Seguro (AIS) a government program charged with providing subsidies to struggling farmers.
The prosecution repeated its argument that Arias was in complete control of the disbursement of subsides both through his control of the AIS and through a network of friends that had received senior positions there.
Arias’ prosecutors further argued that denying Arias bond was appropriate as the prosecution labeled him the primary author of the embezzlement scheme.
During his tenure as minister of agriculture numerous wealthy and politically powerful families received subsidies through the AIS, including individuals completely unrelated to the agricultural industry, such as former Miss Colombia Valerie Dominguez.
Arias was widely considered to be considered ex-President Alvaro Uribe‘s chief protege during his time at the ministry of agriculture. He is also a columnist at El Colombiano, the director of which received a subsidy from AIS. Arias is represented by Gomez Gallego, who was nominated by Uribe to serve as Colombia’s prosecutor general.
The former minister has been barred from holding public office for 15 years for his alleged part in the scandal.