Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe wants to amend Colombia’s constitution to retroactively allow all convicted politicians to appeal sentences imposed after 1991.
Uribe said his constitutional amendment proposal was ready on Friday, the day that his former protege, Andres Felipe Arias, was extradited from the United States to serve a 17-year sentence he received for embezzling $25 million.
The proposal, which is in line with a recommendation of the Constitutional Court, would allow all former congressmen, ministers and governors who have been convicted by the Supreme Court after 1991 to appeal the verdicts against them.
If Congress agrees, chances are that the Supreme Court’s Appeals Chamber collapses as it could be asked to revise the sentences of the approximately 250 politicians who have been convicted by the high court since the 1991 constitution took force.
The bill has been dubbed the “Andres Felipe Arias Bill” after the convicted politician Uribe seeks to benefit.
Arias is not a scumbag who embezzled $25 million meant for poor farmers to give those funds to wealthy elites that could sponsor his 2010 presidential campaign, but innocent, according to Uribe.
“He didn’t steal a peso,” according to the far-right president who is awaiting trial for allegedly tampering witnesses linking him to death squads.
The country’s justice system on the other hand is “very efficient against the innocent and indulgent with criminals,” the controversial former president said Friday.
Uribe’s proposal and the constitutional court recommendation could not just collapse the high court’s appeals chamber, it could also severely agitate the country’s political climate.
If the Andres Felipe Arias Bill becomes law, it could reopen extremely sensitive cases, including those of politicians with paramilitary ties, the Uribe administration’s bribery of congressmen and a countless number of politicians with ties to drug traffickers.
While it would retroactively correct the fact Colombia’s 1991 effectively forgot to grant convicted politicians the fundamental right to appeal, the law would affect not one ordinary citizen.
They do not enjoy the privilege of being tried before the Supreme Court, but are tried lower down the judicial hierarchy, automatically allowing them an appeal at a higher body.