Colombia’s Supreme Court announced on Tuesday it has formalized criminal charges against former President Alvaro Uribe two hours after his first day in court.
The court made the announcement after a tense day that was marred by angry protests in Bogota as nobody knew whether Uribe would be allowed to await the rest of the trial in freedom or in jail until the hearings ended around 5PM.
No former president has ever been called to respond to criminal charges before the Supreme Court.
Uribe was allowed to leave the court, but not without finding himself in even deeper legal trouble.
Earlier in the day, Uribe’s far-right party, the Democratic Center, staged a protest in support of the former president, after which victims of the armed conflict, indigenous groups and students staged counter-protests.
The protests triggered verbal aggression between supporter of the former president and minor clashes between the police and the anti-Uribe protesters.
Following the hearing and the protests, Supreme Court President Alvaro Fernando Garcia rejected “voices who attack the institutional legitimacy of the investigation” and called on “sanity and to trust in justice.”
Garcia said that the court supports social protest, but stressed that “no pressure will influence the lawful decisions the magistrates are obliged to make.”
Less than two hours later, the court demonstrated Garcia wasn’t kidding and dealt a devastating blow to the former president who has long claimed to be the victim of a conspiracy.
Uribe is accused of fraudulently filing criminal charges against opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda after he revealed claims by former paramilitaries who have testified that the former president and his brother formed death squads in the 1990s.
Uribe is facing 14 other investigations by the Supreme Court that include much more serious charges like the alleged complicity in two massacre and the homicide of three human rights defenders.