Colombia’s Supreme Court absolved a former congresswoman on charges of influence peddling Thursday, citing reasonable doubt.
The court had been investigating former senate president, Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, for allegedly soliciting information from the DAS, Colombia’s now-dismantled internal intelligence agency, about various international trips taken by former Liberal Party senator Piedad Cordoba in 2006.
Martha Leal, a former subdirector of operations for the DAS, provided the most damning evidence against Gutierrez, claiming that she had personally delivered documents to the senator’s house regarding Cordoba’s trips to Venezuela and Mexico. According to Leal, this information had been gathered without judicial approval.
Guiterrez acknowledged that she had received information from the DAS, but claimed that she had legally solicited the information in order to verify that Cordoba had completed all protocol necessary to excuse oneself from Congress. The Prosecutor General’s Office announced in May that it could not establish Gutierrez had acted in an irregular manner nor that she had accessed illegal privileged information from the DAS.
“What is sad is that the solicitation by the president of the senate to DAS authorities for information in regards to the completion of disciplinary functions regarding Piedad Cordoba’s travels was mixed together with a crime of influence peddling,” remarked the prosecutor.
In 2008, Guiterrez opened proceedings against Cordoba for treason following the latter’s statements while abroad that Colombia was a ‘mafia state.’ Although these charges were eventually dropped, Guiterrez additionally accused Cordoba of having links to FARC officials, an accusation that ended in an 18-year ban for the Liberal Party senator from Congress in 2010.
The Supreme Court also opened a preliminary investigation against Guiterrez in April 2008 for her alleged ties to paramilitary organizations in Cundinamarca during the unfolding scandal now known as “Parapolitics,” in which numerous government officials around Colombia were accused of working with or for illegally armed groups. The Supreme Court has yet to open a formal investigation against the ex-president of the Senate concerning the case.