Legal experts want Colombia’s chief prosecutor removed from his post over his alleged attempts to cover up the Odebrecht corruption scandal.
Expert groups accuse Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez of failing to disclose key information and his conflicts of interests when the Supreme Court was deciding his candidacy and that of two others nominated by former President Juan Manuel Santos.
Legal groups Dejusticia and the Colombian Commission of Jurists said on Friday they submitted their demand to the State Council, also demanding that the chief prosecutor is provisionally removed from the role during investigation.
The lawyers show in the demand that the Supreme Court of Justice based its decision on incomplete and insufficient information, since Nestor Humberto Martinez was not transparent during the selection process.
The demand spans 53 pages and gives 36 pieces of evidence, alleging that Martinez failed to share relevant information about the involvement of his client, banking conglomerate Grupo Aval, in criminal activity.
Audio recordings surrendered to the State Council indicate Martinez knew of Odebrecht’s bribery practices in 2015, a year before the court named him Prosecutor General.
Yes. Son of a bitch, that’s a bribe, dude.
2015 recording of Nestor Humberto Martinez
Martinez has categorically denied that he knew that Odebrecht’s behavior constituted a criminal offence at the time.
Adding to the pressure on Martinez on Friday, a citizen-led demonstration called for his resignation, with thousands on the streets across Colombia, as well as outside embassies from Argentina to France. The march was supported by judges, prosecutors, and opposition politicians.
The Prosecutor General has been repeatedly accused of cover-ups in relation to the Odebrecht case that implicates some of the most powerful people in Colombia, including President Ivan Duque, and former Presidents Juan Manuel Santos and Alvaro Uribe.
The case is one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of Latin America. According to the United States’ Department of Justice, Odebrecht spent $27 million on bribes in Colombia alone.
The chief prosecutor and the entire Prosecutor General’s Office were removed from the Odebrecht case in November after the son of a key witness died from cyanide poisoning, three days after the death of his father.
The prosecution lost evidence that could determine whether the key witness, former auditor Jorge Enrique Pizano, also died of cyanide poisoning or the cancer he had been suffering.
A second witness killed himself using cyanide and two other witnesses have left the country, and it is not clear whether they will return.