The snowball is just starting to roll. Amid the new spy scandal that shakes Colombia, the Prosecutor’s Office began a formal investigation on Monday about the illegal interceptions of magistrates, opposition politicians and journalists by soldiers who met this weekend. The attorney general in charge, Fabio Espitía, also asked the prosecutor before the Supreme Court of Justice – in charge of some public servants with jurisdiction – to open an investigation against General Nicacio Martínez, the questioned former army commander who resigned in December, citing family reasons.
"It is information that the Prosecutor's Office did not have, it is information that is known by the media," Espitía said when announcing the inquiry at a press conference near noon on Monday. According to the magazine's complaints Week, Martínez's departure on December 27 was caused by the new scandal of illegal eavesdropping, known colloquially in Colombia as blows, which was ordered and carried out from military installations. That was "a way to shield them and avoid a surprise search of justice or the snooping of the media," according to the report. The officers, who handed out information to the press over various acts of corruption in the armed forces over the past year, were also targeted, according to the report entitled "Chuzadas sin barracks", which has caused a political earthquake in The Andean country
During the year he was in office, Martinez was strongly questioned for his role in the return of the ghost of the so-called "false positives" – extrajudicial executions of civilians presented as casualties in combat. In a statement released on Monday the newspaper Time, the former army chief, in his first reaction after the publication, says that his "dignity and good name cannot be trampled irresponsibly." He argues that his retirement came about by a personal decision and announces that he will exhaust "the legal resources and instances that are necessary until the truth about the unjust accusations to which I have been submitted goes public."
After making this information known, President Iván Duque took distance from the scandal. The Executive said he was unaware of these actions and requested sanctions for those responsible. "If there were irregularities, the Government requires that those responsible be sanctioned in an exemplary manner," said Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, in a press conference in which he was accompanied by the commanders of the Military Forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro, and the Army, General Eduardo Zapateiro, the relief of Nicacio Martínez.
"Now what corresponds is to advance in the clarification of the truth … and that truth, which is administrative, disciplinary, criminal or fiscal, will be achieved through investigations that must be carried out by the competent entities," he said. Trujillo, a political and diplomatic tanner of the Democratic Center, the government party, the former chancellor assumed the defense portfolio in November after the departure of Guillermo Botero, before an imminent motion of censure in Congress. to the intelligence apparatus, but he did not know the specific complaints, he said.
According to the weekly, one of the military sources involved received the order that the information obtained through the follow-up of Judge Cristina Lombana should be addressed to "a recognized politician of the Democratic Center", the party founded by Senator and former President Alvaro Uribe, political mentor of President Duque. Questioned about whether the government knew the name of that politician, Trujillo said that "all that is known is the writing of the magazine Week. The circumstances, the names, the facts, the conditions of mode, time and place in which these illegal acts allegedly occurred will be clarified as a result of the investigations carried out. "
Suspicions about illegal listening are not new. Several magistrates have said they believe they have been spying on them, and opposition senators Iván Cepeda, Antonio Sanguino and Roy Barreras denounced last June that they were victims of illegal interceptions with the purpose of making them a "judicial assembly." Barreras himself said Monday in several interviews that both the Government and the Prosecutor's Office were aware of the follow-ups. “I personally reported these facts to the President of the Republic on July 6, 2019 and before the Prosecutor's Office, I extended that complaint on August 29. How so 'you only had knowledge' when they read Week? If they deny it, if they hide it, what guarantee is there that these devices will be dismantled? ”, He said in a Twitter message.
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