Photo: Senator Iván Cepeda Castro Press Office
Based on the intervention of attorney Reynaldo Villalba Vargas during the press conference of the victims of the Uribe case.
The decision of the 28th judge, Carmen Helena Ortiz, to deny the preclusion (or archiving) of the investigation against former senator Alvaro Uribe for the crimes of bribery of witnesses and procedural fraud is a decision that stands on its own and of enormous legal richness, absolutely in accordance with the law. It is a decision that vindicates judicial independence and rescues the rule of law. But it also vindicates the work of the Supreme Court of Justice.
Secondly, I have to say that this decision definitely represents a step forward in the fight against impunity, that it opens hopes that in Colombia there can be justice and it is a very positive message for the whole society.
At this point, there is no room for a new request for preclusion, because the terms have expired to file the indictment. In fact, it would have been difficult to appeal this decision yesterday, given the soundness of the judge’s decision. There is no other alternative from the legal standpoint but to move forward in the process towards the indictment.
In relation to due process, and in view of the prosecutor’s actions in this case, you heard the judge who declared herself impeded at the end of the hearing to continue acting in this case, as is appropriate, but the Public Prosecutor’s Office and of course the prosecutor must also declare themselves impeded. If they do not do so, we will have to ask for their removal.
Articles 175, 63, and 335 of the Code of Criminal Procedure not only set the terms (120 days) for filing the indictment or requesting preclusion, which have already expired, but also contemplates the obligation for the judge, the prosecutor, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to declare themselves impeded by having been a party to the request and the decision on the failed preclusion.
This process contains a wealth of legally relevant facts claimed by the Supreme Court and in yesterday’s consolidated judgment, and which must be part of the indictment, which is the next step, in which the facts indicating the alleged responsibility of the accused are not limited or eliminated.
In conclusion, it has been demonstrated that this request for preclusion was reckless, and what remains is for the Prosecutor’s Office to present the indictment, and obviously it will have to do so with all the evidence collected to date. We call on the investigating entity to act in accordance with the law, to leave aside the recklessness and act recognizing that the person under investigation in this case is the former president and not the victims or their lawyers.
My enormous gratitude to Iván Cepeda Castro, the senator, because he has suffered enormous persecution, not only the instrumentalization of justice but also campaigns of discredit and defamation. I salute my colleagues with whom we share the stage of justice and all the people who collaborated with us without whom this work would not have been possible.
I also have to say that this decision is undoubtedly the product of a whole accumulation of contributions, because this did not start in February 2018 but much earlier. It is the result of all the work of the human rights movement, of the victims’ claims, of investigative journalism, of that journalism that is committed to the truth.
But it is also the vindication of prosecutors and judges who have suffered persecution for fulfilling their constitutional mission, even, at times, paying with their personal freedom and even with their own lives and personal freedom, because decisions such as this one highlight the importance of the mission of administering justice, even in the worst scenarios.