Colombia’s Supreme Court warranted the arrest of a senator accused of bribing the top court, only to find the politician appears to have gone into hiding.
The lawmaker had admitted to paying the former chief justice of the court hundreds of thousands of dollars to obstruct an investigation into his alleged ties to paramilitary groups.
Former Supreme Court Justice Francisco Ricaurte was arrested last week for allegedly accepting the bribe and suspending the investigation.
The morning after the court had issued the arrest warrant, local media reported that the senator had excused his bodyguards over the weekend and has since gone missing.
The Supreme Court told political website La Silla Vacia it considers Besaile a fugitive.
The disappearance of the senator is the latest of developments in the worst and growing corruption crisis in the history of the Supreme Court.
Multiple politicians and paramilitary war lords could have bought their innocence through a network of corruption in the country’s prosecution and courts.
The implication of members of both Colombia’s Congress and highest court puts the country’s judicial system in an unprecedented situation, as no government body seems fit to adequately try the suspects.
- Senator Piedad Zuccardi (U Party)
- Senator Alvaro Ashton (Liberal Party)
- Senator Hernan Andrade (Conservative Party)
- Senator Musa Besaile (U Party)
- Senator Bernardo Elias (U Party)
- House Representative Hernando Padaui (Radical Change)
- Former Senator Zulema Hattin (U Party)
- Former Senator Julio Manzur (Conservative Party)
- Governor Dilian Francisco Torres (U Party)
- Former Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos (Conservative Party)
- Former Governor Alejandro Lyons (U Party)
Implicated judicial officials
- Supreme Court Justice Gustavo Malo
- Supreme Court Justice Eyder Patiño
- Former Supreme Court Justice Leonidas Bustos
- Former Supreme Court Justice Camilo Tarquino
- Former Supreme Court Justice Francisco Ricaurte
- Former Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre
- Former Prosecutor Gustavo Moreno
- Former Prosecutor Raul Acero
According to Colombia’s 1991 Constitution, the Supreme Court is supposed to investigate congressmen while Congress’ Accusations Committee is supposed to investigate members of the high courts and top judicial officials.
However, as both branches of government appeared to have conspired, these investigations would lack any credibility because of the evident conflicts of interests.
Furthermore, according to newspaper El Espectador, the Accusations Committee has not ruled in any of almost 3,500 investigations since 1992. More than 1,500 investigations never really got off the ground off and almost 2,000 investigations have simply been filed without a ruling.
To solve this, the government has again proposed to form a Tribunal for the Immune that would replace the Accusations Committee and would have the mandate to try top members of the judicial branch.
This tribunal proposal was first proposed by the Santos administration in 2014, but was rejected by the now-disgraced judicial branch.
The government announced earlier this week it would hold a referendum to seek ratification of the judicial reform.
This tribunal could be incorporated in a political reform currently being debated by Congress as part of legislation related to a peace deal with guerrilla group FARC.
Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, who personally appointed the anti-corruption prosecutor now in the eye of the hurricane, has already agreed to such a tribunal.
However, Congress has yet to confirm it will include this tribunal in the reform.