Following the Superior Council of Justice’s absolvement of a senator who had been jailed for abusing government resources, Colombia’s Supreme Court warns the council is generating impunity for lawmakers who have been sentenced for criminal activities and could end the country’s trials against politicians with paramilitary ties.
The Superior Council of Justice Monday absolved former senator Sandra Arabella Velasquez for using a government airplane while campaigning in 2006. The Supreme Court had sentenced her to six years in jail.
In Colombia, the Supreme Court has the ultimate authority over the prosecution and sentencing of federal lawmakers and is currently involved in the investigation of dozens of politicians with alleged ties to right wing paramilitary death squads.
The Superior Council of Justice abused its power to overrule the conviction of the Supreme Court in the case of Velasquez and is generating impunity by allowing itself to absolve politicians who have been tried and convicted, Supreme Court President Augusto Ibañez said Monday.
According to the magistrate, the Council’s decision sets a precedent that can put an end to the ‘parapolitics’ trials and makes the country’s justice system look bad on an international level.
Vice-President of the Supreme Court, Jaime Arrubla, said the Council, whose members are chosen by Congress, is exceeding its legal competence.
The superior Council of Justice absolved the politician because it ruled Velasquez’s rights had been violated during her trial.
It is the second time this year the Superior Council of Justice absolved a convicted Congressman.