The scandal that erupted after the arrest of Colombia’s top anti-corruption prosecutor is one of epic proportions not seen since 2006, when dozens of congressmen were jailed.
The scandal began with the arrest of anti-corruption prosecutor Gustavo Moreno in late June and grew even bigger after DEA tapes revealed three Supreme Court justices could have accepted bribes to drop corruption charges against certain politicians, or rule in their favor if their cases went to trial.
Two months into the investigation, the corruption case has already discredited dropped criminal investigations against more than 20 politicians, supreme court justices and prosecution officials, according to leading newspaper El Tiempo.
A number of these politicians were absolved of wrongdoings in the so-called “parapolitics” scandal that has already resulted in the imprisonment of more than 45 former congressmen since 2006 over their ties to drug trafficking paramilitary groups.
An end to the latest scandal has not yet come in sight as more former clients and associates of Moreno — a top lawyer before becoming anti-corruption chief — are being investigated for cases other than parapolitics.
- Senator Piedad Zuccardi (U Party)
- Senator Alvaro Ashton (Liberal Party)
- Senator Hernan Andrade (Conservative Party)
- Senator Musa Besayle (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
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.
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 administration of President Juan Manuel Santos in 2014, but was rejected by the now-disgraced judicial branch.
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.