A top Colombian court decided Tuesday to open an investigation into Congress’ handling of a justice reform bill.
The court’s decision confirmed earlier reports that there would be a preliminary inquiry addressing accusations of malfeasance on the part of the congressmen responsible for the final draft of the controversial, and now-defunct, justice reform bill, which sought to overhaul much of the country’s judicial system.
The bill met a wave of criticism after a series of last minute changes were added that would have provided increased impunity for politicians found guilty of a crime. Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the proposal would have allowed public officials to maintain their position even after being convicted.
Investigators will pay particular attention to the handling of the bill by former interior minister and current Housing Minister German Vargas Lleras and former Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra to determine if the officials pressured congress members to pass the draft.
Esguerra oversaw the handling of the bill as well as the Congressional committee responsible for the late changes, though he claimed not to have been in the room when the controversial modifications were agreed upon. He offered his resignation June 22, taking responsibility for the failure of the reform. A new justice minister, Ruth Stella Correa, has since been appointed to the post.
President Juan Manuel Santos appeared in favor of the investigation, saying, “The least Congress can do is go and study the objections.”
The troubled reform has widened a rift between politicians from the Santos administration and opposition members, with Senate President Juan Manuel Corzo saying he wanted to avoid “a further breakdown in the relationship with the government.”