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 Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe Velez speaks in Bogota, Colombia
The case against former President Alvaro Uribe has split Colombian societyImage: Long Visual Press/LongVisual/ZUMA Press/picture alliance

Colombia: Probe into ex-president to go on, rules judge

Roshni Majumdar
April 28, 2022

A Colombian judge has rejected the attorney general's office's request to shelve a probe into former President Alvaro Uribe, who has been accused of witness tampering.


A Colombian judge has rejected a request by the attorney general's office to halt an investigation into former President Alvaro Uribe.

Uribe is being investigated in a case involving allegations that he established and ran a paramilitary group of his own.

Judge Carmen Helena Ortiz said there was a "possible hypothesis about the material nature of the crime of bribery."

"The chambers rejects the petition for preclusion of the investigation for the crimes of penal bribery and procedural fraud," Ortiz added.

Uribe could face a jail term of up to 12 years if he's convicted in the case. 

Why is the case significant?

Colombia's attorney general's office asked the court to shelve the investigation into the former president last year, arguing that the various accusations leveled against him "do not have the characteristics of crime."

But critics of Uribe had warned that the attorney general's office would be much less rigorous in its investigation into the former president than the top court of the country.

The long-running legal saga dates back to 2012, when Uribe accused leftwing Senator Ivan Cepeda of orchestrating a plot to link him to right-wing paramilitaries. The Supreme Court, however, found in 2018 that Uribe and his allies had pressured and bribed potential witnesses.

Colombia: The perilous path to a new future

The Supreme Court also ordered the detention of the former president and placed him under house arrest for two months in 2020.

Uribe resigned his Senate seat shortly after being placed under house arrest. His defense team argued that since Uribe resigned as a congressman, the country's top court did not have the power to judge the case anymore, as it wasn't related to Uribe's political activities.

The Supreme Court then transferred the case over to the attorney general's office, which has been presiding over the investigation ever since.

Colombians split over probe

The case against the former leader has divided Colombians and sparked protests both in favor and against Uribe.

Uribe was president of Colombia between 2002 and 2010 and was known for his hardline stance against leftist guerilla groups during the country's decades-long civil war. His supporters credit him with weakening the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) group by launching a military offensive.

FARC rebels later reached a peace deal in 2016 with Uribe's successor, former President Juan Manuel Santos.

Uribe is still an influential figure in Colombia, although critics have noted that some of the country's worst human rights abuses took place during his time in office. 

Since 1958, the conflict in Colombia has killed over 260,000 people and displaced over 7 million people, according to the government's National Center for Historical Memory.  

This report was written in part with material from Reuters news agency.

Edited by: Rebecca Staudenmaier

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