Colombia’s ex-president resigns from senate post

BOGOTA – Álvaro Uribe Vélez left the Colombian senate. The former president quit to face an investigation for presumed procedural fraud and bribery in the case of witness manipulation against senator Iván Cepeda. “I feel morally hindered to act as a senator and to develop my defense at the same time,” Uribe said.

Colombia’s court of justice has started an investigation against Álvaro Uribe Vélez and Álvaro Hernán Prada. Hence, Uribe resigned his senate post to face the investigation of procedural fraud and bribery related to senator Iván Cepeda’s case. In February, Uribe accused the left-wing senator of witness manipulation, after Cepeda accused Uribe of cultivating ties with right-wing paramilitaries.

The court explained “the actions that the court is investigating occurred after February 16. That day, the court abstained to open an instruction to Senator Cepeda, and collected evidence against the denouncer, Álvaro Uribe Vélez. As a reaction to this judicial ruling, and apparently with his approval, Uribe’s people had committed new acts of witness manipulation. In the preliminary enquiry, ordered on February 22, the court found evidence that merited the process in which senators Uribe and Prada shall respond for the mentioned felonies.”

Uribe then tweeted: “The honorable Supreme Court of Justice has called me to an enquiry. I feel morally hindered to act as a senator and to develop my defense at the same time. Because of that I present my resignation to the Senate, and I ask for the acceptance of my resignation.”

Uribe counts on the support of president-elect Iván Duque, who said “we know former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez. We are witnesses of his honorability and his righteousness, his patriotism and also his undisputable service to the country and the rule of law.”

Uribe’s party Centro Democrático called the investigation a farce. “Uribe’s innocence is unquestionable. We have serious evidence that reveals this process is a political farce,” said a party statement.

The opposition, on the other hand, views the resignation as a strategy to escape the court. They allege Uribe wants the case to be processed by the general prosecutor, to which Uribe responded via Twitter: “I have never eluded the Supreme Court, so they are now saying I want to avoid the Court’s competence. The accusation that is on me is based on acts I supposedly committed as a Senator. In that case the competence would remain at the Court.”

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