Some 3,500 Colombians have allegedly been involved in what seems to be a systematic abuse of the country’s justice system, according to an NGO dedicated to curb the use of paid false witnesses.
The ongoing investigations of some 3,500 allegedly paid-off false witnesses, over 160 of whom were for cases involving elected officials, is proving to be an unmanageable task for a remarkably limited prosecution team, according to the Foundation for Defending Innocents.
As of now, there are only five prosecutors trying to bring to justice the thousands who assisted in false criminal claims by providing witness testimonies on demand.
Sigifredo Lopez of the Foundation for Defending Innocents said he thinks the investigations could last over ten years unless 50 new prosecutors are added to the team.
“The effort is insufficient because…all that exists today for this spreading pandemic is a small group comprised of only five prosecutors and thirteen assistants who physically cannot keep up the process of investigating 900 plus cases for more than 3,500 union members,” said Lopez.
While his foundation’s survey only accounts for about 17% of the prison population, Lopez said he suspects that up to 20 to 30 percent of the people currently in prison are likely to be innocent and are being held as a result of false witness testimony, thus affecting up to 30 thousand families.
Lopez, a former politician, has personally been a victim to false witness testimony, after being the sole survivor of a kidnapping and systematic murder of 11 members of the provincial assembly. He was later accused of helping coordinate the kidnapping, however three people were reportedly arrested for lying under oath.
The investigations have been ongoing since October 2014. There is still no word on whether any additions will be made to the prosecution team.