Tension rises between Prosecutor Barbosa and the government of President Petro – Investigation – Justice
In a three point statement The Prosecutor closed the door yesterday at a work table between the prosecuting entity and the Special Assets Society (SAE) to advance the investigations into complaints about irregularities in the management of assets that have been taken in extinction of domain.
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On October 13 of last year, after a meeting between President Gustavo Petro and the Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa Delgado, the creation of this joint working group was announced to make the investigations into the alleged irregularities found by the new management more efficient. the SAE.
This was the most recent episode of a marked estrangement between prosecutor Barbosa and the government of President Petro, who responded quickly to the decision of the head of the prosecution body.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with the prosecutor but this only makes the mafia happy that through their politicians managed to recover the assets they obtained with cocaine and that justice had taken away from them. The immolated judges did not matter, the wealth of the mafia returns to the mafia,” the head of state trilled.
And he went further because he affirmed that without the help of the Prosecutor’s Office they will look for how the assets of the mafia in extinction of the domain cease to be controlled by the mafia. This poses a great difficulty since the investigations and the power to carry out the asset forfeiture processes are at the head of the prosecuting entity.
Consulted by EL TIEMPO, prosecutor Barbosa responded to President Petro: “I ask the President for respect for the Prosecutor’s Office, its independence and the fight against the mafia, from which we have taken 26 billion pesos during my administration. The lack of collaboration of the members of the SAE cannot mean the paralysis of the accusing entity”.
“Here the only ones who benefit the gangsters are those who want to get them out of jail without meeting any type of requirement and thus avoiding extradition to the United States, going above the law,” said Barbosa, who added that the Prosecutor’s Office “is in its tasks, exercising the Constitution and the Law. There are limits in the State of Right”.
Although until a few days ago the national government and the Prosecutor’s Office maintained harmonious relations within the framework of cooperation between the branches of the State, the atmosphere began to become difficult after the attorney general’s refusal to lift the arrest warrants for the representatives of the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) and the Sierra Nevada Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (ASNC).
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Although the notification not to suspend these orders, as requested by the office of the High Commissioner for Peace, was signed by the Deputy Attorney General Martha Mancera, later the prosecutor in an interview with EL TIEMPO He assured that he will not change his mind
“Surely there will be dialogues with the Government to talk about the subjugation bill. Regarding the lifting of the arrest warrants for extradition purposes, the Prosecutor’s Office remains unharmed,” said Barbosa Delgado who added that although he supports “total peace” the decisions for your search must have limits.
The attorney general, Margarita Cabello, came out to support prosecutor Barbosa by pointing out that peace cannot be above the Constitution. She then pointed out that it is a matter of “separation of powers within a democracy like ours, subject to the rule of the constitution and the law.”
To which Petro responded again on his Twitter account: “There is a huge mistake in saying that peace is not above the Constitution, In reality, constitutions are made so that societies can coexist in peace. Constitutions are peace treaties, said Norberto Bobbio (…) If article 22 of our constitution says that peace is a fundamental right, then every public servant must guide his actions in order to make Peace. That we do not get used to hate speech and war, that is profoundly unconstitutional”.
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Although after the election of Petro in the presidency the relationship with the prosecutor was restored, before the campaign the situation was tense. In April of last year, when the then senator Petro was considering running for the presidency, he pointed out: “This is not a problem that is still in force because I do not want to be left in the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office. It does not give me guarantees. As it was proven before I was a congressman.”
This is because when he loses his privilege as a senator, the investigations will go from the Supreme Court of Justice to the Prosecutor’s Office.
At the time, the prosecutor Barbosa responded: “It is unfortunate that Mr. Gustavo Petro pretends to be president of the Republic riding on the judicial institutions of the country. The Attorney General’s Office, its officials, the Colombian institutionality, the Judicial Branch respect each other and they are part of the Rule of Law (…) in a democracy the rules must be respected and not ignored”.
The tense situation between Petro and Barbosa is already beginning to generate concern in various sectors who warn that in the context of “total peace” promoted by the government, the role of the Prosecutor’s Office is key, not only in the matter of arrest warrants but also in a possible submission process.
To this is added that the period of Prosecutor Barbosa Delgado goes until February of next year and the official has been emphatic that he will remain in office until the last day. This year President Petro will have to send to the Supreme Court of Justice the shortlist from which his replacement would be elected.
Should bridges of rapprochement be sought?
Former Attorney General Mario Iguarán was in favor of seeking channels of rapprochement between Petro and Barbosa.
“On the one hand, and in both cases (suspension of arrest warrants and SAE) the Attorney General is correct. And on the other hand, the President is determined to create the conditions to achieve coexistence and peace for Colombians. Hence, It is necessary that the two highest authorities sit down to interact through institutional channels,” Iguarán told EL TIEMPO.
The former vice-prosecutor Francisco Sintura pointed out: “two principles govern the actions of the public powers according to the constitution: The first must act harmoniously and secondly they must respect their respective powers in attention to the principle of independence. Then the bridges must exist by constitutional mandate ” .
For his part, former prosecutor Guillermo Mendoza Diago said that one thing is the acts of government of President Petro and another is investigations into acts of corruption or the application of the law that corresponds to the Prosecutor’s Office.
“This should not be about ideological or political discussions, it must be to guarantee compliance with what the Constitution and the law say. There is the criminal code and the code of criminal procedure, beyond the debates, all branches of power must comply what is established,” added Mendoza Diago.