Prosecutor General’s Office has removed key evidence from the office of the special prosecutor investigating the Odebrecht bribery scandal, local media reported Thursday.
The Friday raid was allegedly ordered by acting Prosecutor General Fabio Espitia, less than 48 hours after the resignation of former Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, who has been implicated in the international scandal.
“They took everything”
“We know that much of the most important documentation is going to be lost or has already been lost,” anonymous officials working for the special prosecutor Leonardo Espinosa told newspaper La Nueva Prensa.
“They took everything without making any formal record of delivery,” one source said.
There was no inventory record as there should be, no record of anything. They took all the files and all the computers.
Espinosa was appointed by the Supreme Court to assume several lines of investigation related to the bribery practices of Odebrecht and Grupo Aval subsidiary Corficolombiana because of Martinez’ conflict of interest in the case.
Before becoming Prosecutor General in 2016, Martinez’ was Grupo aval’s judicial adviser and knew about the corruption since 2015, according to a key witness who died under mysterious circumstances last year.
Multiple pieces of key evidence related to the death of one key witness who claimed the former chief prosecutor was involved in the corruption were destroyed or disappeared last year while in custody of the prosecution.
Congress left without evidence to investigate Martinez
Media reported earlier this week that Espinosa would ask Congress to consider a criminal investigation against Martinez and, according to leaked documents, several prosecution officials would be involved in what appear to be elaborate efforts to cover up the corruption scandal.
But according to the anonymous officials, the prosecution officials took all the evidence that would substantiate the claims made in report handed to Congress.
How a corruption scandal became a thriller
The death of two witnesses in the corruption case and the son of one of the witness spurred the high court to take action and appointed Espinosa as special prosecutor.
Martinez resigned last week, one week before the Supreme Court was expected to hold a hearing about the possible removal of all lines of investigation related to Odebrecht amid suspicions the chief prosecutor continued to obstruct justice.
With the compromised chief prosecutor’s resignation, Espinosa’s job effectively became redundant after which prosecution officials apparently took immediate action to remove evidence from the special prosecutor’s office in Bogota.
An effective investigation into the Odebrecht scandal has barely progressed ever since the United States claimed the Brazilian engineering firm spent more than $27 million in December 2016.
Now that the investigation has returned to the Prosecutor General’s Office, whose officials allegedly conspired to cover up the alleged criminal practices of their boss, there is no saying what will happen to the investigation.
While his former subordinates allegedly raided the special prosecutor’s office, Martinez was seen shopping in Miami to where he apparently fled after the war crimes tribunal also ordered to investigate him on suspicion of misconduct.
Not only is Martinez accused of involvement in covering up his own alleged corruption and misconduct in the attempted extradition of a former rebel leader, the former chief prosecutor has also been accused of tax evasion.