The Colombian Supreme Court justice suspected of taking bribes to suspend the arrest warrant of a now-fugitive senator has taken a leave of absence, local media reported Tuesday.
Justice Gustavo Malo is the sitting justice suspected of taking bribes in a corruption network implicating multiple former justices, prosecution employees and politicians.
The justice is currently being investigated by Congress’ Accusations Committee while his former colleague Francisco Ricaurte is being investigated by the top court on which he used to preside.
Malo earlier ignored calls from his colleagues to resign.
However, after news broke that Musa Besaile, the senator who allegedly had bribed the justice, went missing after taking time off from work, Malo asked for three-months of unpaid leave.
Malo allegedly accepted money from Besaile to refrain from warranting the senator’s arrest while the lawmaker was on trial for his alleged ties to paramilitary death squads.
Colombia’s former anti-corruption czar Gustavo Moreno, who allegedly bartered the bribe, was arrested in June after the United States Drug Enforcement Administration sent tapes mentioning the bribe to Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez.
The former Supreme Court president, Francisco Ricaurte, who allegedly was in on the court’s worst corruption scandal in history, was arrested last week.
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.
- 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
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 Santos administration in 2014, but was rejected by the now-disgraced judicial branch.
The government announced earlier this week it would hold a referendum to seek ratification of the judicial reform.
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.