Colombia’s Supreme court will investigate the Liberal Party senate leader Horacio Serpa in connection to the 1995 murder of a prominent Conservative rival politician.
The court announced that it has the jurisdiction to investigate congressman Serpa and has requested that the Prosecutor General transfer the investigation that has been inconclusive since Gomez was assassinated.
Family seeking justice
The Gomez family announced earlier this year that it was suing the Colombian government for stalling and failing to take the adequate steps to properly investigate the case.
The lawsuit followed the implication of Serpa, along with former president Ernesto Samper, in the confession of drug trafficker Luis Hernando Gomez, alias “Rasguño.”
The former capo of the now-defunct Cali Cartel had claimed that Serpa and Samper had instigated the murder following the Conservative opposition politician’s persistent opposition to Samper for winning the 1994 elections using cartel money.
Serpa, Samper’s debate manager during the campaign, denied the accusation, questioning the validity of the confession of “a murderer and drug trafficker of the worst sort, worse than Pablo Escobar.”
The drug links
The family demand the accusations to be investigated as Rasguño was the same person that linked Samper’s 1994 election campaign to the Cali Cartel.
During the so-called “8,000 process” after the elections, former campaign manager and Defense Minister Fernando Botero, son of the the painter with the same name, was sent to jail over the cartel involvement in the elections.
Samper and Serpa at the time were able to convince the liberal majority in Congress that the president had never known about the money.
Nevertheless, diplomatic relations with the United States were nearly cut and Washington revoked the Colombian president’s visa. Serpa was granted a US visa in 1998.
Court loses patience
Despite the family’s persistent requests for progress in the case, Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre has failed to show significant results in the murder investigation or the accusations made by Rasguño.
Serpa’s position as congressman means the Prosecutor General personally has jurisdiction over the investigation.
However, Colombia’s Supreme Court announced this week that it can and will claim jurisdiction over the investigation.
Magistrate Gustavo Malo Fernandez pointed out that article 186 of the Constitution provides for congressmen to be tried and judged by the Supreme court “for any crimes they may commit.”
If that isn’t enough, he also cited the 1996 ruling (C-222) of the Constitutional Court, which states that “while a person is a congressman, he [or she] will be investigated by the Supreme Court, for whatever crime” unless his or her term in office has ended. If that is the case, then he or she can only be tried by authorities for crimes related to the office.”
The Court has released an official request for the Prosecutor General to transfer the proceedings of the investigation.
Gomez, the son of controversial former President Laureano Gomez, took part in presidential elections himself unsuccessfully for three times. He was one of the writers of the 1991 constitution that secured the demobilization of two rebel groups.