Monday, September 8, 2014

Don't Like the Law? Then Leave!

Ex-Controlora Sandra Morelli, now in Italy, is the most
recent Colombian high official to flee to escape
legal charges.
As the controlora, her job was to investigate and evaluate the performance of other government entities, including whether they were obeying the law.

As minister of agriculture, his job included implementing a law providing subsidies to small landowners.

As director of the DAS, Colombia's FBI, her job was to investigate and expose lawbreakers.

As peace commissioner, his job included negotiating the demobilization of outlaw guerrilla fighters and bringing them within the law.

However, when each of these high officials faced legal charges themselves, they decided that Colombian law shouldn't apply to them, and fled the country.

Ex-agriculture minister Andres Felipe Arias is
seeking asylum in the U.S.
Controlora Sandra Morelli won respect for exposing corrupt contracts while in office. However, soon after finishing her term, she faced accusations herself, including alleged fraud involving the purchase of a government building. But Morelli alleged that Colombia's Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre was biased against her, and declared that she would not receive a fair trial here, and fled to Italy, where she also has citizenship.

María del Pilar Hurtado, director of the Administrative Security Department (DAS) under Pres.
Alvaro Uribe, allegedly helped Uribe spy on his political opponents, including Supreme Court magistrates and reporters. After the scandal, which many compared to Watergate, the DAS was liquidated and replaced. Hurtado fled to Panama, where she is fighting extradition. And Uribe was recently elected to Congress.

Ex-peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo fled to
Canada, where he recently obtained asylum.
Andrés Felipe Arias, minister of agriculture under Pres. Uribe, was popularly seen as Uribe's heir and a potential presidential candidate. But Arias allegedly used a government subsidy program called Agro Ingreso Seguro (Secure Agricultural Income) to reward wealthy political supporters. Arias apparently did not enrich himself personally using the program, but nevertheless was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Arias fled with his family to the United States, where he is seeking political asylum. Arias claims that his 17-year sentence was disproportionate to any wrongdoing.

Ex-DAS director Maria del Pilar Hurtado fled to Panama,
where she is fighting extradition.
A respected author and conservative political leader, Luis Carlos Restrepo was the Uribe administration's peace commissioner. In 2006, he oversaw the demobilization of 62 supposed guerrillas members of the Cacica la Gaitana Front. However, it later became known that most of the supposed guerrillas were homeless and unemployed men who had been paid 500,000 pesos each to pose as guerrilla fighters and 'demobilize' for the media. Even tho at least one ex-guerrilla testified that he had tricked Restrepo into believing that the men were guerrillas, courts ordered Restrepo arrested for the false demobilization. In January 2012, Restrepo fled to the U.S. and then to Canada, where he recently received asylum.

All four officials claim that Colombia's justice system is unfair or biased. That may be true - but
which nation's system is not to some degree. And, by living in a nation, and particularly by serving in government, a person implicitly agrees to play by their nation's rules. Picking and choosing when to respect the legal system is fundamentally unfair, since this option is not open to poor people.

You can't - or shouldn't be able - to pick and choose your laws.

The pattern of Colombian high officials fleeing the country to escape prosecution is also extremely damaging to Colombian society, since it creates a privileged class above the law and then everybody else, who have to submit themselves to an inefficient, often corrupt legal system. It thus degrades respect for the law and makes a mockery of the legal system which these once high officials once were supposed to uphold.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Dan Gonzalez B said...

This is what happens when a clueless gringo makes comments on local politics.

1. Andres Felipe Arias. Ever read the actual documents/criminal files or acsusations? doubt it. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison and a 15M USD fine for:
-signing an agreement with the OAS (OEA) for managing a revenue insurance scheme, every single agriculture minister has signed agreements like that one for the past 50 years, yet Arias was the only one under criminal investigation for it.
-Supposedly,(here comes the best part) embezzling money for the benefit of a third party. Small problem was that third party (Familia Davila) had never met Arias in person before 2009. (Arias was sentenced for events that took place in 2007)

-There was no appeals court for Arias.

Arias was granted political asylum by a federal immigration judge in may, 2015.

2. Sandra Morelli. OF course she would never have a fair trial here, the supposedly big thing she did was that she overpaid to rent a building for the insitution she led (contraloria) if anything this was a purely administrative issue, yet, somehow, the attorney general (fiscal general) launched a criminal probe against her. So why did he launch a criminal probe against her? Because in a big criminal case (Saludcoop) the attorney general hadn't lifted a finger to prosecute the people involved and Morelli showed that a few months before being elected attorney general Montealegre had received roughly 2 million dollars from Saludcoop.

3. Maria del Pilar Hurtado. She was the head of the local intelligence agency, and was charged with, wait for it, SPYING. Would you expect her to get a fair trial? She was prosecuted for doing her job.

This craphole´s courts are not the pristine halls of justice some people think they are.

Miguel said...

So, it's the privilege of the powerful to decide whether or not they can get a fair trial?