A Colombian judge dealt a legal setback today to Senator Iván Cepeda and his sham case against former President Álvaro Uribe, rejecting his demands that Uribe be deprived of due process in the ordinary courts of the country as a private citizen.
The judge cited extensive jurisprudence that dismantled Cepeda’s arguments, concluding that since he resigned from the Senate, Uribe is a private citizen deserving of all the appropriate legal guarantees afforded to average citizens of Colombia. The ruling was a blow to Cepeda’s strategy to keep the case within a special legal framework to minimize transparency, block scrutiny of major irregularities during the investigative phase, and keep Uribe in what an international human rights group has observed to be “arbitrary detention.”
Cepeda, the principal ally of the FARC in Colombia, has been on a losing streak in the justice system since Uribe’s shocking arrest without charge on August 4, which provoked an outcry and attracted international monitoring of the politically motivated case. The “star witness” in the case, Juan Guillermo Monsalve, was exposed as having lied in his testimony against Uribe while his impoverished wife shortly thereafter mysteriously acquired a sprawling ranch on 50 acres of rich farmland worth $123,000.
Until now, while the lack of transparency in the case prevailed, Cepeda has avoided having his cell phone examined by the authorities to investigate whether he’d obstructed justice by deleting evidence he’d bribed Monsalve to provide false testimony, during which it has now been proven the witness lied on at least eight separate occasions.
The judge did not rule on whether Uribe should be released from detention and allowed to defend himself in freedom, asking the country’s Supreme Court to first give an opinion on her standing to proceed. The high court must respond within 72 hours of her request, and a decision on Uribe’s freedom may follow soon after.
If justice is to be served, Uribe will be granted his right to defend himself in freedom. Transparency, fairness and due process must prevail.