On Wednesday, a judge overseeing judicial guarantees will decide if President Alvaro Uribe Velez is able to defend himself as a free man. The hearing, scheduled for 9 a.m., will hear arguments from Uribe’s defense and the Attorney General’s office, with a decision expected shortly after. The hearing is a pivotal point in the case where a judge will have the opportunity to review the violations of due process that led to Uribe’s arrest last month.
As outlined by Uribe’s attorney, Jaime Granados, the Supreme Court of Justice violated six important judicial guarantees:
- Presumption of Innocence
President Alvaro Uribe has been under house arrest since August 4 without being formally charged. Judge Cesar Reyes, in his 1,500-page arrest order riddled with inaccuracies, deprived Uribe of the presumption of innocence and the ability to defend himself as a free man.
In the more than two years since the investigation was launched, Uribe has complied with every order from the court and testified when called to do so. What threat, then, does Uribe actually pose that the court found it necessary to put him under arrest? None.
As Uribe’s legal counsel said in an August 11 statement, an arrest order two years into an investigation is not “preventative, but rather vindictive.”
Reyes’ arrest order without charge aligned with the political motives of Uribe’s accusers. Senator Iván Cepeda and the FARC found the right judge to carry out their political objectives.
- Use of illegally obtained evidence
The Supreme Court of Justice based their entire case on illegally obtained wiretaps, which themselves contain no material evidence to support the accusations against Uribe.
Former Judge Jose Luis Barcelo illegally intercepted Alvaro Uribe’s phone “by mistake” in a separate, unrelated case, obtained 22,000 wiretaps under the irregular order, and transferred them to the Uribe case file. Barcelo knew exactly what he was doing. Court investigators conducting the wiretaps alerted Barcelo that the phone belonged to Alvaro Uribe Velez, but he allowed them to proceed anyway.
Barcelo’s actions were in direct violation of Article 29 of the Colombian Constitution, which states, that all evidence collected in violation of due process is null and void.
- No material evidence
The 22,000 illegal wiretaps show that Uribe never once spoke to witnesses nor directed anyone to issue bribes in exchange for false testimony. In fact, not a single minute incriminates Uribe of any wrongdoing. Rather, the court relies on hearsay from witnesses induced through payments and benefits by Ivan Cepeda.
- Refusal to Hear Key Defense Witnesses
The Supreme Court of Justice systematically ignored witnesses that came forth to testify that Uribe’s accuser, Senator Ivan Cepeda, had bribed them to testify against the former president.
Juan Carlos “El Tuso” Sierra, a former paramilitary extradited to the United States by Uribe, publicly stated that Cepeda and others visited him in prison and offered asylum for his family in exchange for false testimony against Uribe. Lisa Ruth, a former CIA agent, corroborated Sierra’s story, yet the court refused to hear either Sierra or Ruth. This was a clear indication of partiality in the evidence phase.
- Selective Leaking
Ever since the investigation was launched in 2018, the court has selectively leaked details of the case to Uribe’s media adversaries, twisting the truth and flooding news portals with disinformation relating to the case.
In fact, Uribe found out that he had been illegally intercepted not by formal communication, but by media reports.
- Impartiality by Judge Reyes
Recent revelations by Semana display the court’s impartiality in its investigation. To start, audio recordings reveal Judge Cesar Reyes warned Senator Ivan Cepeda, in the middle of his testimony, that answering a specific question could potentially lead to self-incrimination. Of course, taking counsel from the bench, Cepeda refused to answer. Furthermore, Cepeda refuses to hand over records of chats with the case’s star witness, Juan Guillermo Monsalve, claiming his “phone fell” and its memory was wiped. The court accepted the bogus answer and moved on.
Wednesday’s hearing is a pivotal point in the sham case against Alvaro Uribe. A judge will have the opportunity to hear Uribe’s defense and review these violations of due process orchestrated by Reyes, Cepeda, and the FARC.
If the Colombian legal system truly wants to carry out justice, Alvaro Uribe will be a free man tomorrow.