Colombia’s Congress on Tuesday ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate two ex-ministers who are accused of having bribed congressmen to approve legislation necessary for former President Alvaro Uribe’s 2006 reelection.
According to the House of Representatives’ Accusations Commission, in charge of criminal investigations against (former) members of government, there is enough evidence to formally investigate former Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt and former Social Protection Minister Diego Palacio.
Both ministers are implicated in what in Colombia has become known as “Yidispolitica,” a scandal that involved the bribery of at least two lawmakers who, after having been promised bribes, changed their crucial votes to favor of a constitutional amendment necessary for Uribe to run for a second term in 2006.
Until the vote, Colombia’s constitution allowed a president to serve only one term.
House Representative Yahir Acuña, who is also leading an investigation against the former President for his alleged role in the illegal wiretapping of the Supreme Court and political opponents, said there exists enough evidence to investigate the former ministers for influence meddling, conspiracy and bribery.
So far, the Supreme Court has convicted former congressmen Yidis Medina and Teolindo Avendaño for accepting the bribes, but the Prosecutor General’s Office has failed to charge the ministers who allegedly offered the bribe.
The bribe, which has always been denied by both Uribe and his former ministers, proved crucial in a 2004 vote. Without the vote in favor of opponent Medina and the absence of opponent Avendaño, Congress would’ve turned down a second presidential term and Uribe could not have been reelected in 2006.
A second attempt to have Uribe reelected again in 2010 failed after the Constitutional Court deemed another constitutional amendment unconstitutional because of the fraud that had taken place in the process leading up to the amendment.