Colombia’s Supreme Court will begin a thorough inspection of its offices after listening devices were found in the office of the magistrate investigating former President Alvaro Uribe, Cable Noticias reported Sunday.
The inspections will begin on Monday amid a growing scandal over the reportedly illegal wiretapping by the National Army of the Supreme Court, lawmakers and journalists.
The scandal is eerily similar to a 2008 wiretapping scandal when Uribe was president and his aides ordered the wiretapping of the Supreme Court while it was investigating ties between politicians and now-defunct paramilitary group AUC.
The Uribe family’s deja vu
At the time, the Supreme Court was investigating the former president’s disgraced cousin Mario. This time, the court is investigating Uribe himself.
Weekly Semana revealed on Saturday that former National Army chief General Nicasio Martinez had ordered the illegal wiretapping and that illegally obtained intelligence was sent directly to the Democratic Center (CD), the far-right party of Uribe and President Ivan Duque.
Noticias Uno reported on Sunday that information on magistrate Cristina Lombana, who was responsible for the two dozen Uribe cases in 2018, would have been sent to former Vice-Minister of Justice Rafael Nieto, a close ally of the former president, but did not indicate what the source of this information would be.
The party official, who is already being investigated over allegedly illegal political warfare and the Odebrecht bribery scandal, said this was “bullshit.”
Supreme Court turned upside down
The newscaster additionally reported that two listening devices were found in the office of Magistrate Cesar Reyes, who formally accused Uribe of fraud and bribery in October last year.
According to Noticias Uno, court officials will turn the court offices upside down on Monday to verify if other listening devices would be present.
The president and Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who has been implicated in the scandal, have tried to downplay the scandal, but without much success.
Duque and his minister announced internal investigations on Saturday, but because Martinez is a general, his reported order to wiretap the Supreme Court will be investigated by the top court itself.
If the Supreme Court finds that Trujillo’s reported attempt to stop the raids that revealed parts of the alleged illegal wiretapping operations constitute obstruction of justice, he too will be investigated by the top court.
All but quiet of the far-right front
Uribe implied on Twitter that the report on the army wiretaps and the bugs found in the office of the magistrate investigating his alleged criminal behavior were part of a political conspiracy against him.
According to the former president, he received a message that “they have everything ready to accuse a house representative of the CD and members of two legislative work units of the CD, who would have received reports of alleged wiretaps in the Army and that this information would reach former President Uribe. This information was given to Semana.”
“Another infamy,” Uribe said.
The day before, his party asked authorities to investigate the claims made by Semana and reveal the name of the “prominent politician” who reportedly received illegally obtained intelligence “to take the appropriate action.”
While the Supreme Court investigation against Uribe continues despite the wiretapping, the latest scandal is sinking the CD and the Duque administration deeper in crisis.
Uribe was already in court, but government officials and allies in the military could follow.
Also politically the party is going through difficult times; the ruling party received a beating in local elections in October last year and the president’s approval rating hit a record low during anti-government protests in December.