Independent litigator Saul Villar Jimenez has filed a suit with Colombia’s State Council demanding the removal of Colombia’s current and former senate presidents from office, local media reported Tuesday.
Villar has become something of a public figure for his aggressive pursuit of congressional corruption, being labeled a “congressmen hunter” by the national media for previous legal campaigns.
His latest case involves acting Senate President Juan Fernando Cristo, and Senator Roy Barreras, Cristo’s predecessor, as well as two other congressmen and a pair of government contractors. Barreras and Cristo are accused of influence trafficking, and abusing their positions in the Colombian Congress toward their own personal benefit.
The accusations rest on the testimony of Héctor Zambrano, former vice-minister of health, who is cooperating with government prosecutors as part of a plea-agreement related to Bogota‘s “Carousel” contracting scandal.
Zambrano claims that during his time as vice-minister of health for the city, he was approached by Cristo, Barreras and others, who used their political clout to swing a $33.5 million ambulance contract toward a third party.
Villar told reporters Monday that “according to the declaration of Dr. Hector Zambrano, [Cristo and Barrera] received financial incentives from contractors” to rig the contracting process.
Zambrano’s allegations originally surfaced in early August, but no formal complaint was made until this week.
Barreras has vehemently denied the claims made against him, as has Cristo, who is also implicated in an ongoing investigation into possible paramilitary ties.
Zambrano, however, has provided the names of former city councilman, national congressmen and city officials who he says can corroborate his claims, and Villar has asked that various individuals be subpoenaed along with Zambrano.
Colombia’s Supreme Court has been handling the criminal aspect of the Bogota “Carousel” investigations. Should it decide to procede with Villar’s suit, the State Council would only be considering administrative measures against the congressmen. Villar has called for both Cristo and Barreras to be stripped of office.
Congressmen Samuel Benjamín Arrieta Buelvas and Plinio Olano were also included in the request.
Both Barreras and Cristo’s offices declined Colombia Report’s request for comment, referring to previous statements in which the congressmen declared their innocence.
- Radican demanda de perdida de investidura contra el Presidente del Senado (El Espectador)
- Demandan las investiduras de presidente y expresidente del Senado (Caracol Radio)
- Demandaran las investiduras de Roy Barreras y Juan Fernando Cristo (El Colombiano)
- Hector Zambrano echa agua al Roy Barreras y Juan Fernando Cristo (El Universal)