Colombia’s prosecutor general is facing a storm of controversy following her announcement on Monday that her office is bringing fraud charges against the country’s former peace commissioner.
Prosecutor General Vivian Morales has been met with a host of allegations concerning her renewed relationship with her husband, and his controversial role in the demobilization of former paramilitary groups.
The controversy centers around Morales’ husband, ex-congressman and former M-19 guerrilla Carlos Alonso Lucio, who was allegedly an unofficial adviser to illegal armed groups including the right-wing AUC and the left-wing M-19 during their demobilization processes.
Conservative Wall Street Journal columnist Mary O’Grady has further criticized Morales for alleged hiding her relationship with Lucio, and denounced her appointment as prosecutor general. Though Morales claimed to be separated from her husband when she was elected in 2010, she has recently acknowledged that they are back together.
Morales’ own office has designated an anti-terrorism prosecutor to investigate the allegations against the prosecutor general’s husband.
The allegations follow Morales’ announcement that charges will officially be brought against Colombia’s former peace commissioner on January 20 next year, for his alleged role in faking the demobilization of a non-existant group of FARC guerrillas in 2006.
Luis Carlos Restrepo, who was peace commissioner for seven years under former president Alvaro Uribe, is being charged with fraud for faking the demobilization of the FARC’s “Cacica la Gaitana” Front, the existence of which has been denied by both authorities and the FARC. Plans to press charges were reported by the prosecutor general’s office in August, leading to yesterday’s official announcement.
Restrepo responded with a radio interview in which he accused the prosecutor general of bringing the charges “in a fit of rage”, after Restrepo wrote to her on Monday regarding her husband’s involvement with the paramilitary groups.
The letter, which has been publicly shared by Morales and published by newspaper El Espectador, outlined in detail all that Restrepo knew about Lucio’s controversial role in the demobilization process. Restepo concluded the letter by stating that he “hopes these facts are of interest” and that “it is not for me to assess whether they comply with the law or not”.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has publicly supported his prosecutor general in face of the accusations, and the actions of her office in bringing charges against Restrepo. In an interview with W Radio, Santos — who’s appointment of Morales was one of his first moves in office — acknowledged his difficult position, but stated that at this point “I have not been disappointed (…) she is someone that can make a good prosecutor”.
The president acknowledged that when he asked Morales if she was married to her husband at the time of her nomination, she replied “no”, but reaffirmed that Morales was “nominated because of her credentials (…) I do not regret this decision”.
Former president Uribe, meanwhile, has stated his support for Restepo via his Twitter account, saying it is “unacceptable that the deception of criminals becomes a crime of the innocent”, refering to Restrepo’s claims that he tried to alert authorities to the fake demobilization.
The charges against Restrepo have far reaching implications for Uribe’s former administration, which is already involved in several scandals regarding the inflation of successes in the Colombian state’s fight against illegal armed groups.