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Colombia’s Supreme Court to Elect New Chief Prosecutor

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro sent the Supreme Court a shortlist of candidates to replace chief prosecutor Francisco Barbosa at the end of his term ends in February.

All candidates are women who have led major criminal investigations in the past two decades.

The court received the shortlist amid escalating tensions between the government and the prosecution, and days after the arrest of the son of President Gustavo Petro on corruption charges.

If the court elects one of Petro’s candidates, the Prosecutor General’s Office will be led by a criminal law expert for the first time since 2011.

The candidates

I have chosen three women with a deep experience in criminal law and the exercise of their professional life as prosecutors… all three have a common denominator: they all risked their lives to defend the rights of human beings in the worst moment of the genocide unleashed in Colombia.

President Gustavo Petro

Angela Maria Buitrago

Petro’s first candidate, Angela Maria Buitrago, is a criminal law professor at the Externado university.

In Colombia, Buitrago investigated the 1985 military siege of the Palace of Justice, which left some 100 people dead.

The former prosecutor also investigated the 2014 forced disappearance of 43 students in Mexico as part of a commission set up by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Luz Amparo Ceron

Luz Amparo was one of the main investigators of the corruption practices of Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht until 2020 when Barbosa’s controversial decision to reorganize the investigation triggered her resignation.

At the time, Amparo questioned the possible political motivations behind the reorganization of the scandal that implicated some of the chief prosecutor’s most important political allies.

Amelia Perez

Amelia Perez fled Colombia in 2003 after her investigations into the now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC and members of the military made her a target of death threats.

As one of the prosecution’s human rights experts, Perez also investigated the 2002 terrorist attack on the exclusive Nogal club in Bogota, which was claimed by the now-defunct guerilla group FARC.

Election coincides with crisis

In his letter with the prosecutor general candidates, the president invited the Supreme Court to also consider appointing a special prosecutor to continue investigations into Petro’s son.

Barbosa’s office last week indicted Nicolas Petro and his ex-wife Daysuris Vasquez on money laundering and illicit enrichment charges last week.

Far-right political activists asked Inspector General Margarita Cabello to recuse the president over his alleged conflict of interest in the appointment of a new chief prosecutor.

The inspector general doesn’t have the power to recuse the president.

Barbosa, a long-time friend of former President Ivan Duque, will leave office in February after four controversy-ridden years as Colombia’s chief prosecutor.

Source : colombiareports