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Barbosa said that “the country has made progress, despite the problems that persist, in strengthening a State that guarantees calm elections and, of course, in efficient criminal investigation strategies.”
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The collaboration that the defendant can provide to justice does not depend then on the place where he is, but on his willingness to repair the damage caused.
Whoever remains in Colombia, but refuses to give information to the judicial authorities about their crimes, does not help the victims any more than someone who is extradited. On the contrary, a person detained in foreign prisons can make the decision to collaborate with the judicial authorities of Colombia, for which it will suffice to make use of international cooperation mechanisms such as judicial assistance and information technologies.
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The collaboration that the defendant can provide to justice does not depend then on the place where he is, but on his willingness to repair the damage caused by his criminal conduct. It is worth remembering that the extradition of a citizen does not inhibit the continuation of criminal investigations against him or the exercise of criminal action in Colombia, in order to obtain decisions that satisfy the rights to truth, justice and reparation.
We are days away from the presidential elections, have you detected a risk that illegal groups try to put pressure on the regions?
As the country knows, the Prosecutor’s Office has a comprehensive and articulated strategy regarding crimes that affect the 2022 electoral contests, made up of several lines that go beyond the typical electoral corruption, since they cover axes such as threats and attacks in against candidates –mainly the candidacies derived from the peace agreement–, computer crimes, among others.
In the axis of corruption and crimes against democratic participation, in the strict sense, we have 374 active cases, the vast majority of them due to constraint and corruption of the voter, concentrated mostly in Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Tolima, Santander and Atlántico, some already with clarification rates. The Office of the Prosecutor has inter-institutional platforms specially designed to receive and analyze all these complaints and the information related to them.
Regarding the rest of the criminal phenomena that affect the elections, let me tell you that, at least in the most sensitive issues, the country has performed well compared to other years. In terms of complaints handled in these matters, the volume of crime has been much lower than expected. This means that the country has made progress, despite the problems that persist, in strengthening a State that guarantees calm elections and, of course, in efficient criminal investigation strategies.
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Of course, there are regions in which organized armed groups have an impact. The combat and dismantling of these structures (in their military, financial and political components) is a task of all the institutions of the Colombian State.
Faced with the advance of 70,000 million, it was possible to verify by the investigative team of the Prosecutor’s Office an appropriation of 15,200 million that were used in works of art, apartments and cars
Several of the people who had to do with that fact are already captured and charged. The last of them was Jorge Enrique Benavides, who already has an insurance measure. It is important to specify that, compared to the advance of 70,000 million, it was possible to verify by the investigative team of the Prosecutor’s Office an appropriation of 15,200 million that were used in works of art, apartments, aircraft rental, vehicle purchases and personal loans.
That amount is the one charged to the defendants. And, according to the invoices presented by the temporary union, it is evident that equipment such as solar panels, batteries and other supplies for the installation of the digital centers were also purchased.
It must be remembered that the accusations must be supported by the evidentiary sufficiency of the corresponding investigation in each specific case. This, without prejudice to administrative or fiscal actions, which have a different connotation than criminal. Regarding the recovery of that money, Agreements are being advanced with the defendants so that, according to their appropriation, they reimburse said sums. There is a plan designed for this reimbursement and the idea is that the respective disbursements will begin soon.
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Of course, these are strategies that are part of the framework of autonomy and independence of our delegated prosecutors.
Apart from the cases that the country is aware of, although there are other investigations, we do not have any other lines of investigation in which a decision will be made promptly.
Are there investigations linked to influencers and the origin of their resources?
On that point, the inquiries are at a very preliminary stage, that is, just beginning, so there is not much I can tell you about it. However, the country knows that the tracking and prosecution of criminal finances, with all the tools that the law offers us, is one of the central strategies of this Prosecutor’s Office.
Very briefly, I am not going to enter into controversies with the victims and their attorneys in this case regarding what follows after the decision that denied the estoppel request. The case is in the hands of a delegated prosecutor to the Supreme Court of the highest professional qualifications, who was specially assigned the investigation by virtue of his unique track record as a judge and as a career prosecutor, after a judicious study of different sheets of life.
The interpretations and controversies that the victims have must be raised within the process. For our part, I support the delegated prosecutor and respect his autonomy and independence, both in the development of his acts of investigation and in making the decisions that correspond by law.
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During the first 24 hours, after the homicide occurred, the judicial police personnel obtained more than 100 evidentiary material elements and technical evidence, which have been important to know details about the possible material authors of the homicide and to have clarity regarding its determiners.
To this was added a commission from the Public Ministry and the Police of Paraguay that traveled to Cartagena, in addition to a component of the United States agencies, in order to achieve the exchange of information that allows the institutions of each country to advance in a together, within the framework of its powers. I cannot give you many details, but the hypothesis about the relationship of the facts with the role played by Dr. Pecci as prosecutor of his country is key for us.
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To that extent, it is essential to characterize the criminal organization that could be behind this, its motives and its financial component. That is, in short, what I can tell you. All our solidarity with Paraguay. This is a fact that has moved us deeply and that we are working to clarify. Make no mistake: today, more than ever, we must persist in joint investigative and judicial work for the impact and dismantling of criminal organizations and their illicit economies. It is the rule of law and the rule of law in the region that is at stake
We renew our alliances to continue investigating conduct related to money laundering through commercial operations and the use of cryptocurrencies
We held fundamental meetings to deepen the fluid relationship of judicial cooperation that we have with the United States. The meeting with the attorney general of that country, Merrick B. Garland, demonstrates our closeness to the Department of Justice, the main ally of the Attorney General’s Office and of Colombia in the investigation and prosecution of the largest drug traffickers and criminals who attack citizens. and try to circumvent the institutionality. The DEA administrator, Anne Milgram, also accompanied us at that meeting. We were also able to meet with the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, with whom we strengthened the articulated work with that agency and ratified the mutual commitment to cooperation.
In Washington, we also renewed our partnerships to continue investigating conduct related to money laundering through commercial operations and the use of cryptocurrencies to finance criminal activities, as well as combating child exploitation, sex tourism, migrant smuggling and human trafficking. persons. It was a very fruitful day in terms of joint strategies against transnational organized crime and its illicit economies.
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Would the cooperation translate into the presence of more federal agents in Colombia and more access to their technology?
We take advantage of the meetings held to identify education and training opportunities for prosecutors, investigators and analysts of the Prosecutor’s Office so that we can build increasingly solid cases based on probative evidence. This includes not only training, but also the strengthening of research technology platforms (software Y hardware), as well as the formation of transnational groups that facilitate joint research and the exchange of information.
What progress was made in cooperation with the powerful Internal Revenue Service agency, Criminal Investigation?
With IRS we have a close relationship in the investigation of tax and financial crimes, money laundering and asset forfeiture. In the Prosecutor’s Office we have the Financial Investigations Group, of a transnational nature, in cooperation with the IRS. This was created with the purpose of detecting, pursuing and dismantling transnational criminal organizations dedicated to money laundering and financial crimes. In this framework, special investigation techniques and controlled deliveries, among others, are used.