Former Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture Juan David Ortega is to be sent to prison as a security measure during proceedings for his alleged role in the Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS) corruption scandal.
Ortega will be sent to La Picota prison, where a number of former ministry employees linked to the scandal already reside, after a Bogota judge upheld a request made by the Prosecutor General’s Office, Colombian media reported Thursday.
The former ministry employee is charged with appropriating funds and issuing contracts without complying with legal requirements. According to newspaper El Tiempo, the prosecuting judge said that, if found found guilty, Ortega could face a prison sentence of more than four years, stating, “The conduct isn’t grave, but rather, extremely grave.”
The proceedings were postponed Wednesday, April 20, when the ex-secretary failed to arrive in the court room at the scheduled time. They resumed Thursday, April 28, at 7 AM, in the Paloquemao Judicial Complex in Bogota.
Ortega failed to attend the start of his hearing on April 5, as well, for his role in the scandal that saw the misappropriation of public funds intended for poor, rural farming families, instead ending up in the hands of some of the country’s wealthiest land owners.