One of Colombia’s most controversial ex-senators on Friday requested international oversight of his drug trafficking trial, claiming the country’s judicial system will not respect processual guarantees.
Juan Carlos Martinez was released from house arrest earlier this week after serving time for his ties to paramilitary groups, only to be immediately arrested on charges of narcotrafficking. He assured that even though he respected the judges and attorneys, he would be “requesting an international oversight committee because I do not believe in the decision made by Colombian justice system.”
Martinez was arrested in April 2009 on charges of connections with paramilitaries and drug dealers. The ex-senator, whose meteoric rise brought him from the assembly to the senate of his district in just four years, emerged from the controversial shadow of former government official Carlos Herney Abadia, convicted during the “8000 process” in the mid-90s for receiving funds from the Cali drug cartel.
The Supreme Court’s decision was based on a number of testimonies from former traffickers who claimed ties to the ex-senator. In 2006, extradited paramilitary leader Ever Velosa, alias “H.H.”, assured authorities that Martinez had received support from the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) during his 2006 senate electoral campaign. As a result, Martinez was condemned to seven and a half years in prison.
Martinez was allowed in March 2012 to finish his sentence under house arrest, subsequently reduced by over 13 months, as a result of “good conduct and study” in prison. A Cali judge controversially granted conditional freedom to the ex-senator on Tuesday for having completed 3/5ths of his sentence in addition to his proper conduct.
Days later, a new warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of narcotrafficking, citing testimony from demobilized paramilitary fighter Armando Lugo, alias “El Cabezon.”
Martinez denied El Cabezon’s claims, saying the ex-paramilitary was a “liar” and an unreliable witness and reiterated that he had no ties to drug dealers.
“For me it is painful that a person that was discredited on two occasions for being an extortionist is being used by the prosecutor general as a credible witness and, moreover, that preventive measures were taken against me the same day that I received my liberty,” Martinez maintained.
Martinez has claimed foul play throughout his most recent run-in with the law and fears that he will not receive a fair treatment from the justice system.
“[The authorities] wanted to saddle me with all of the narco-trafficking that left Colombia, for example with ‘Rasguno,’ who declared in all of his declarations that he did not meet Juan Carlos Martinez. What we have here is an goal and interest from sectors of the societies of Valle de Cauca and Colombia to get rid of Juan Carlos Martinez,” the ex-senator claimed.