Colombian former Congresswoman Yidis Medina, who has been serving jail time since 2010 for accepting a bribe, testified in court Monday after being charged with arranging a kidnapping-for-ransom plot.
The controversial politician pled innocent to charges of arranging the 2000 kidnapping Ricardo Sequeda and Juan Carlos Carvajal, city officials from the Barrancabermeja municipality in northeastern Colombia.
“I did not order, or participate in the kidnapping of two officials from the municipality of Barrancabermeja, because at the time of the events, I was kidnapped by [Marxist guerrilla group] the ELN,” said Medina during her trial.
Lawyers representing Sequeda and Carvajal accused Medina of organizing the kidnapping plot with the guerrilla group and former Senator Luis Alberto Gil Castillo, who was sentenced to 7 years in prison for paramilitary ties and then released in March after serving less than half of his sentence.
Medina allegedly pressured the municipal officials to pay money owed to a cooperative she represented. The officials were reportedly kidnapped the following day by ELN guerrillas.
“The former congresswoman was part of the strategy made by suspected insurgents from the ELN, who continued to hold two officials for more than 15 hours and forced them to pay more than $165,000,” said defense attorney Jhon Franco.
Former Interior Minister Pretelt de la Vega was accused of bribing Medina in exchange for her vote in favor of a 2004 constitutional change that would have authorized former President Alvaro Uribe to run for re-election in 2006 for a third term.
The charges against de la Vega were dropped in 2011 after a judge determined that the case violated his procedural rights. Medina was convicted in 2008 for her role in the case, which has become known as the “Yidispolitica” scandal.