May 23, 2024

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) -Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice on Tuesday chose Luz Adriana Camargo as the country’s new attorney general, following weeks of political tensions over delays in naming someone for the role.

Camargo, a former judge who worked for the attorney general’s office for 12 years in the 1990s and early 2000s, was also an assigned prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Justice, where she investigated ties between lawmakers and right-wing paramilitary groups.

Delays by the court in naming a replacement for Francisco Barbosa, whose term ended in February, has caused tensions with leftist President Gustavo Petro, who said it was a rupture in institutional practice and denounced attempts to remove him from power.

Both the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asked for a swift process without pressure on the court.

“With eighteen votes, Luz Adriana Camargo Garzon was elected as the country’s new attorney general,” Gerson Chaverra, president of the Supreme Court of Justice, told journalists.

Camargo, chosen over one other candidate after a third hopeful named by Petro pulled out at the last minute, worked for the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala between 2014 and 2017, where she directed the investigations team and worked with current Colombia defense minister Ivan Velasquez.

She also consulted with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the case of three Ecuadorean journalists kidnapped and killed by a Colombian armed group.

Camargo will direct delicate investigations – including into accusations of illegal financing of Petro’s 2022 presidential campaign.

Petro’s eldest son Nicolas, a former provincial lawmaker, is being prosecuted by the attorney general’s office for alleged illicit enrichment and money laundering, in an investigation begun over a year ago.

According to the charges, Petro received money from accused drug traffickers in exchange for including them in his father’s peace plans, though the elder Petro has denied awareness of any illegal activities.

Also on Perez’s slate is the long-running case against right-wing former President Alvaro Uribe for alleged witness tampering and fraud, apparently carried out to discredit accusations he had ties to paramilitaries.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime AcostaWriting by Julia Symmes CobbEditing by Marguerita Choy)

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