On Tuesday, Colombia's Supreme Court ordered the detention of the country's ex-president, Alvaro Uribe, a longtime giant in the history of the nation's political scene. The move comes amid an investigation as rivals accuse the ex-president of fraud, bribery, and witness tampering.
According to The New York Times, the order marks a historic moment for a country that had become used to having its politicians conduct back door deals who were rarely ordered to attend court for their actions.
Despite other countries in America moving forward to find and punish acts of corruption within its political scene in recent years, including the prosecution of presidents, Colombia had rarely moved to indict significant political figures.
Uribe is considered to be the most powerful Colombia politician within the last two decades and had previously been the subject of investigation for several years. However, the court's decision to detain the former president has been the closest he has come to facing a panel of judges. Many Colombians called him the "Teflon president" due to his ability to avoid prosecution.
The order also has the potential to change Colombia's political landscape drastically. It would also make Uribe the first president in recent Colombian history to be detained. It places the ex-president under house arrest. Despite being laxer than time in prison, Uribe stated he disliked the order.
In a post on Twitter On Tuesday, Uribe wrote that deprivation of his freedom caused him great sorrow. The ex-president also noted that the order affected his wife, family, and citizens who still believed in his righteousness.
Uribe had been president of Colombia between 2002 and 2010 and has since continued to remain influential with his position as senator. The country's current president, Ivan Duque, had a little following before the ex-president supported him. Duque won the 2018 elections as he promised to restore the legacy of the former president, as reported by The Guardian.
Bribery and witness tampering
The current investigation into Uribe originated from Senator Ivan Cepeda's accusations. The claims say the ex-president was a founding member of a paramilitary group which were based in his hometown during the civil conflict which lasted for decades.
The conflict involved government forces, leftist rebels, and right-wing bands that resulted in the death of several hundreds of thousands and many others to be displaced or have gone missing.
In response, Uribe accused Cepeda of slander for his claims. However, the Supreme Court dismissed the ex-president's allegations and instead ordered to open investigation on him. The court said Uribe had worked to bribe witnesses to sway them into not testifying against him.
According to Aljazeera, several critics and civil rights groups supported the Supreme Court's decision in a country where the powerful and infamous have continued to escape legal punishment for their unjust actions.
In a virtual news conference, Cepeda said there is no Colombian citizen, no matter their connections and influence, who has more power or authority over the law.
Supporters of Uribe, on the other hand, including current President Duque, criticized the Supreme Court for its decision which they claim has political origins.