Crime & Justice

Colombian president’s son arrested

Bogota, Jul 29 (EFE).- Nicolas Petro Burgos, son of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of money laundering and illicit enrichment, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Petro Burgos, 37, was detained in Barranquilla, capital of Atlantico province, where he is a member of the legislature.

Also taken into custody was his ex-wife, Daysuris Vasquez, who months ago accused her former spouse of pocketing a substantial amount of money that was intended as a contribution to his father’s presidential campaign.

They were both flown to Bogota and will be held at the AG Office’s fortified headquarters pending arraignment in front of a judge.

“As a person and a father I am greatly pained,” Petro said in his first public comments on the arrests. “As president of the republic I vow that the AG Office has every guarantee on my part to proceed in accord with the law.”

Born in 1986 to Petro and first wife Katia Burgos, Nicolas Petro was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother, as his father, then part of the M-19 guerrilla group, was on the run.

Even so, Nicolas followed Gustavo into politics and he and Daysuris Vasquez were present for the elder Petro’s inauguration as president on Aug. 7, 2022.

The AG Office announced on March 21 that it was investigating Petro Burgos.

The probe was launched weeks after Vasquez said in an interview with newsweekly Semana that her ex-husband had accepted more than 600 million pesos ($153,000) from reputed drug trafficker Samuel Santander Lopesierra, alias “the Marlboro Man,” that was intended as a contribution to Gustavo’s presidential campaign.

“He (Nicolas) kept that money” as well as a $51,000 contribution from controversial businessman Alfonso “El Turco” Hilsaca, Vasquez said.

The scandal comes three months before provincial and municipal elections and will likely add to the problems that Colombia’s first leftist president is encountering as he tries to implement an ambitious reform agenda.

Gustavo Petro has promised not to intervene in his son’s case.

“Let these events forge his character and he can reflect on his errors,” the president said on social media.

EFE lmg/dr

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