Colombia’s prison authority Inpec will restrict the benefits of “para-politicians” in prisons in Bogota and Barranquilla to hinder their ability to influence local elections held in October.
“La Picota” prison in Bogota and “El Bosque” prison in Barranquilla are restricting access to politicians convicted of having ties to paramilitary organizations so that only pre-approved guests can visit them from Friday to Monday.
The decision was made in response to former Senator Juan Carlos Martinez Sinisterra, who is convicted of para-politics, receiving visitors, such as electoral candidates, outside of visiting hours. Martinez was moved from La Picota prison to El Bosque after it was discovered that he was throwing parties and influencing politics from inside the prison.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, Martinez, a former senator from the Valle del Cauca department, was being visited by Edinson Ruiz Valencia, a current candidate for the mayor of Cali, the capital city of Valle del Cauca. Inpec and the Justice Ministry are investigating a visit from Representative Heriberto Arrechea Banguera, who came outside of permitted hours.
Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra announced Sunday that Inpec officials suspected of allowing irregular visits to para-politicians will be suspended and investigated.
Esguerra is also concerned that para-politicians, such as Martinez, have been granted a 72-hour leave from prison during the weekend of the October elections.
“I am going to talk to the judicial authorities to see if, through them, they can ask the judges in each case to take into consideration that it would be good for the elections that they are not affected by the intervention of people who are found in this moment to be accountable to justice,” said the minister.