Former President Alvaro Uribe insisted that his ex-Agricultural Minister Andres Felipe Arias “did not steal.” He implied that Arias’ incarceration is part of a conspiracy within the judicial branch.
In a statement posted on Uribe’s Twitter, the former president reiterated the innocence of his protege Arias.
“He did not steal. He conceived Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS) so that the national agriculture could be competitive in the context of trade agreements with countries of high subsidies… Arias never had in mind the interests of any particular person.”
Uribe also doubted the legitimacy of the court’s presumption that Arias visited people in prison who were implicated in the AIS scandal for malicious reasons. He said the court did not consider Arias innocent until proven guilty.
“The prosecutor and the judge did the opposite: with no reasons to rebut the presumption of innocence in the visits, they concluded that [Arias] sought to obstruct justice.”
Uribe further claimed that the judge who ordered Arias to prison has ties to former Supreme Court Justice and Uribe critic Yesid Ramirez. He presented several questions he would like answered about the impartiality of those involved in the case against Arias.
He argued that while the Supreme Court was holding up their assessment of Uribe’s short-list for prosecutor general candidates in 2008, Ramirez used the opportunity to put an anti-Uribe judge in charge of the Bogota courts, the same judge who is presiding over Arias’ case.
The former president also claims that the delegate of the inspector general who supported the judge’s decision to incarcerate Arias during his trial was part of a group of advisers to Ramirez. The inspector general, who was appointed by Uribe, banned Arias from public office for 16 years.
The fight between Uribe and Ramirez is nothing new. Ramirez is currently suing the government for $1 million to compensate for being illegally wiretapped during the Uribe administration.