The defense for former Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno requested his release from pre-trial detention a second time Wednesday ahead of his scheduled appearance in court on charges of extortion, bribery and embezzlement.
Moreno’s attorneys argued that the time allowed to detain their client before the start of his trial had expired. A judge denied a similar request in April, ruling that the time allotted for holding the defendant during the ongoing investigation had not passed.
The former mayor will go on trial for his alleged involvement in the massive kickback scheme known as the “Carousel Contraction” scandal, in which public contracts were awarded to construction conglomerate Nule Group in exchange for a 6% cut. Moreno and his brother, Colombian Senator Ivan Moreno, made an estimated $5.5 million under the arrangement. Members of the Nule group are currently serving time in prison for the scandal.
The most lucrative contract involved the construction of the third phase of Bogota’s bus transit system, TransMilenio. The construction suffered from irregular stoppages leading many to suspect the delays were intentional in order to increase the amount of public funds awarded to the project.
Moreno was suspended from office in 2011, initially for 3 months which was then extended to a year, while the Carousel investigation progressed. In response, the mayor sued Colombia’s federal government for $101,000 over loss in salary.
Colombia‘s Inspector General’s Office opened a second corruption investigation against Moreno in May, this time for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars. He is suspected of illegally granting contracts for the purchase of vehicles, property, and foreign investments while he was in office. Eight Bogota city council members are also under investigation.
Moreno’s trial is set to start July 4.