Colombia’s congress may open an investigation into the country’s chief prosecutor over mounting corruption claims. The state council, however, said Tuesday it refuses to consider his removal.
The Commission of Accusations is “already taking action,” House Representative and commission president Luis Emilio Tovar told press after receiving audio recordings in which Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez is mentioned as an alleged accomplice in the “Toga Cartel” scandal.
Martinez and the Toga Cartel
The Toga Cartel scandal revolves around Martinez’ former anti-corruption chief who was sentenced to prison in the United States earlier this month after admitting he mediated bribes between investigated congressmen and former members of the Supreme Court.
Within the next few days, Congress’ Accusation Commission, which can carry out criminal investigations against presidents and elected officials from the judicial branch, will decide whether or not they open a preliminary investigation into Martinez’ alleged involvement in the bribery of Supreme Court magistrates.
The DEA sent Martinez evidence related to this scandal in which the chief prosecutor himself is named. Of the hundreds of hours of audio recordings, Martinez sent 13 fragments to the the Supreme Court, that passed them on to the Accusations Commission.
Prosecutor Jaime Camacho stated under oath that Martinez had ordered the recordings be edited before being sent to the Supreme Court, senior journalist Daniel Coronell revealed over the weekend.
The Supreme Court said Tuesday that the evidence it had received was complete. The Accusations Commission president, however, initially said that the recordings and transcriptions they received from the Supreme Court missed the audio that could incriminate Martinez.
We will review the mention made of the Prosecutor General, since at the time of the transfer from the Supreme Court of Justice these parts were not included.
House Representative Luis Emilio Tovar
On Wednesday, however, Tovar retracted and said that the material the commission received was, in fact, complete.
Martinez and the Odebrecht scandal
The Council of State said on Tuesday that it would not consider annulling the chief prosecutor’s 2016 appointment on grounds Martinez had failed to reveal his conflict of interests in corruption practices by Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht.
Several judicial organizations had requested the annulment and his immediate suspension after evidence emerged that Martinez knew about the mass bribery of lawmakers and government officials ahead of his appointment by the Supreme Court.
The top court controversially argued that the legal terms for such a request had expired. The State Council controversially refused to consider recent evidence that Martinez withheld information in regards to Odebrecht’s bribery practices and said the request to remove him from office should have been made within 30 days after his appointment.
Despite his position having become virtually untenable for months and growing public unrest, Martinez has refused to resign. This refusal is supported by President Ivan Duque, one of the top officials who is implicated in the bribery scandal.