Crime & Justice

Court grants conditional release to Colombian president’s son in corruption scandal

Bogota, Aug 4 (EFE).- A Colombian judge on Friday ordered that Nicolas Petro Burgos – son of President Gustavo Petro – and his ex-wife Daysuris Vasquez be granted conditional bail as they testify in a case of money laundering and other crimes that has cast a shadow on his father’s government.

The municipal criminal judge 74, in-charge of handling undertakings and bail, admitted the defense petitions and held that the additional security measures sought by the prosecutors in Nicolas Petro’s case were not necessary.

The prosecutors said in a statement explaining the verdict that as the two accused had promised to collaborate in the investigation, they would not be put in detention and would continue to cooperate in the criminal probe.

However, the judge ordered Petro Burgos and Vazquez to not leave the country as well as the city of Barranquilla, from where they were arrested on Jul. 29.

Three days after their arrest, the president’s son was charged with money laundering and illicitly amassing wealth as a public servant, while his ex-wife has been accused of money laundering and violating personal data privacy.

The arrest took place as part of an investigation that prosecutors launched in March after Vasquez told a magazine that Nicolas Petro had received money from drug trafficker Santander Lopesierra, alias “the Marlboro Man,” for his father’s presidential campaign and than pocketed the funds himself.

In another hearing on Thursday, prosecutor Mario Burgos said Nicolas has told investigators that while he did keep some of the funds he received from Lopesierra and a son of controversial businessman Alfonso “Turco” Hilsaca, portions of the money did reach Gustavo Petro’s 2022 campaign.

On Friday, the judge said that Nicolas is prohibited from interacting from people who had given him illicitly acquired money and anyone else involved, while both the accused were also barred from participating in political events.

After agreeing to collaborate the president’s son has already promised to resign as a member of the Atlantico provincial assembly.

The court also ordered an investigation into the former couple possibly gaining undue advantage in securing contracts and falsifying documents, along with the charges already framed.

The decision is based on audio presented by the prosecutors on Thursday purportedly showing that the duo ran a network involving influence peddling, bribes and other illegal activities in Atlantico – which has its capital in Barranquilla – using Nicolas Petro’s position as a deputy.

The verdict stipulated that the two accused had to observe good conduct and are obliged to appear whenever summoned by the courts or the prosecutors.

On Friday morning, Nicolas Petro’s lawyer Jose Teleki had claimed that his client’s life was in danger because there were people that did not want the truth of the corruption scandal to come put, and sought house arrest for the defendant. EFE


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