Colombia’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of its former president over claims that he sabotaged investigations into congressmen for money.
The court announced that it has ordered the detention of former magistrate Leonidas Bustos, one of three former Supreme Court magistrates embroiled in the “Toga Cartel” scandal.
Bustos reportedly fled to Canada in 2018 after Colombia’s highest court began investigating his alleged role in the biggest judicial corruption scandal in recent memory.
The court ordered the former magistrate’s arrest on claims that Bustos continued to wield enough power in Colombia to potentially sabotage investigations into the Toga Cartel.
It is undeniable that the specific circumstances of the case and, in particular, the professional and personal background of the defendant Bustos Martinez, make it quite likely that he will continue with criminal activities, which in itself constitutes a potential danger to the safety of the community.
Bustos is last remaining Supreme Court suspect
The fugitive magistrate is the only of three former Supreme Court justice whose alleged participation in the Toga Cartel has yet to be proven.
A Bogota court sentenced former Supreme Court president Francisco Ricaurte to 19 years in prison last year for allegedly leading the corruption of the judicial branch in March last year.
Former magistrate Gustavo Malo was sentenced to almost 10 years in prison by his former colleagues five months later.
The Toga Cartel
The Toga Cartel scandal broke in 2017 when the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency requested the extradition of Luis Gustavo Moreno, who was the prosecution’s anti-corruption chief at the time.
According to the DEA, Moreno mediated bribes with allegedly criminal former congressmen and governors on behalf of Supreme Court magistrates.
In return, these top court magistrates sabotaged investigations into more than 20 politicians who already enjoyed special privileges, the trials against Ricaurte and Malo revealed.
Moreno has been a key witness in the cases against the former Supreme Court magistrates and has allegedly surprised two assassination attempts while in custody.
Will Canada extradite former magistrate?
As a consequence of the Supreme Court ruling, Colombia’s government will ask Interpol to issue a Red Notice, which requests foreign governments to detain Bustos .
If the former magistrate requested political asylum in Canada as reported, the government in Ottawa would be barred from making any statements on the former magistrate’s whereabouts.
Only if one of Canada’s immigration boards denies Bustos’ request for political asylum, Colombian authorities could request the extradition of the allegedly corrupt former magistrate.