Colombia’s controversial chief prosecutor resigned on Wednesday after the country’s war crimes tribunal ordered the release of a FARC leader who was arrested last year on unsubstantiated US drug trafficking charges.
The resignation of Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez had been demanded by citizens for months because of a slew of corruption allegations that has made his position virtually untenable for more than a year.
According to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, FARC leader “Jesus Santrich” must be released for prison considering there exists no evidence that would support claims made by Martinez and the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that the FARC leader tried to traffic drugs after signing peace in 2016.
In a further blow to the prosecution, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) recommended an investigation into possible misconduct in the investigation against Santrich.
The decision of the JEP triggered a political storm in Bogota where both the far-right Democratic Center party of President Ivan Duque, outgoing US ambassador Kevin Whitaker and Martinez had claimed there was enough evidence to extradite the FARC leader.
According to both Santrich and the FARC, the former guerrilla chief had been “framed” by the DEA and Martinez, a claim that is supported by evidence.
Martinez, who had become the personification of corruption because of his ties to the Odebrecht corruption scandal and the bribery of Supreme Court judges by his former right-hand man, announced his resignation in a furious email in which he claimed that the war crimes tribunal sacrificed the rule of law “all in the name of peace!!!”
Now that Martinez is gone, President Ivan Duque is expected to provide a shortlist of three candidate chief prosecutors of which the Supreme Court will pick Martinez’ successor.
Martinez’ deputy, Maria Paulina Riveros, was supposed to take charge of the Prosecutor General’s Office in the meantime, but she resigned too.
Until the court designates a new prosecutor general, Martinez’ delegate before the court, Fabio Espitia, will take charge of the Prosecutor General’s Office.