Seven of nine army officials who were sacked by Colombia’s defense ministry on Friday over their alleged role in reported intelligence gathering for President Ivan Duque‘s far right party were never mentioned in this scandal.
The Defense Ministry announced that 11 officials were fired and one had handed in his resignation just when weekly Semana published a bombshell story with details on the scope of the spying scandal.
Only one of these officials, however, has been mentioned by newspaper El Tiempo as a suspect in the Supreme Court investigation into the army’s intelligence gathering for President Ivan Duque’s far-right Democratic Center Party.
A second one took part in a reported cover-up operation that implicates the minister himself, according to Semana.
How the other officials would be involved in the army’s criminal practices is entirely unknown.
Zero tolerance = all nonsense?
Until weekly Semana revealed the evidence that journalists, lawmakers, NGO’s and even the former chief of staff of President Ivan Duque were military intelligence targets, only former National Army commander General Nicasio Martinez had resigned.
The Defense Ministry on Friday didn’t say who was fired or why. Local media reported the name of one general, and obtained the orders to sack three majors and five colonels on Saturday.
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who in December last year reportedly tried to impede a Supreme Court raid that triggered the scandal, said on Saturday the purge was part of his “zero tolerance” policy against corruption after doing nothing for almost six months.
I have stressed that from the bottom of my heart I feel absolute solidarity with our Armed Forces, for what they represent as an institution for the health of our democracy. However, I immediately noted that I would always have zero tolerance for the slightest illegal or immoral act by any of its members.
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo
The stench of cover-ups
What former counterintelligence chief General Eduardo Quiros was still doing in the military is a mystery in itself. Evidence that the general was involved in illegal activity is more than a year old.
Before reportedly leading the operation to cover up the illegal wiretapping in December, the general was already under investigation for leading a witch hunt against commanders who expressed their concern about retired National Army commander General Nicasio Martinez to the New York Times in January last year.
Instead of getting fired, Quiros was promoted to lead the National Army’s Operations Command, which is in charge of “advising and keeping the Army Commander and the Chiefs of Staff informed on all matters related to the military operations carried out in the national territory.”
Of the nine sacked officials, only one was a reported suspect
General Ernesto Garcia, who resigned on Friday as the chief of the Joint Intelligence and Counterintelligence Department of the Armed Forces General Command, has not been linked to the army’s illegal spying practices in any way.
Of the three majors and five colonels who were fired on Friday, only Major Eduardo de la Torre has been mentioned as a suspect in the wiretapping investigation.
With the exception of De la Torre and possibly the two missing officials who were allegedly fired, those who got the boot on Friday were never mentioned as suspects in the wiretapping probe.
The disciplinary investigation against Quiros is about the witch hunt. There is no indication that the reported cover-up operation in which the minister is implicated is investigated at all.