Colombia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday asked one of its justices to step down after he and his daughter found themselves accused of extortion.
Supreme Court Justice Gustavo Malo is the third member of the high court to be formally investigated by Congress for allegedly forming a corruption network that altered court rulings for money.
Two more justices have been mentioned by witnesses of making part of this top-level corruption network.
The Prosecutor General’s Office announced earlier Tuesday it would open a criminal investigation into Malo’s daughter Yara Milena, who has been accused of demanding 20% of a prosecutor’s wage after helping the official get the job.
The Malo family’s alleged corruption practices spurred the court to ask the justice to step down, but was left waiting for an answer after Malo went home claiming his wife had fallen ill.
The Supreme Court’s request is a novelty in Colombia, having been preceded only by a corruption scandal in the Constitutional Court that asked one of its justices to resign amid similar bribery claims in 2015.
Malo was the justice who had ruled favorably in the case of Senator Musa Besaile, who admitted to paying jailed anti-corruption chief Gustavo Moreno to prevent his arrest.
Audio recordings provided by the United States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), provoked the biggest judicial crisis in recent history.
Local media have reported that five Supreme Court justices, multiple prosecution officials and multiple congressmen had engaged in corruption practices.
Newspaper El Tiempo reported earlier this week that also demobilized leaders or paramilitary organization AUC could have received benefits through bribing the Supreme Court and the transitional justice system put in place after their disarmament between 2003 and 2006.
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.
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.