Deposed Antioquia Governor Gaviria: ‘I’m Innocent, Attorney General is Legally Mistaken’
Deposed Antioquia Governor Aníbal Gaviria announced in a June 8 press conference that Colombia Attorney General Francisco Barbosa Delgado committed a grievous legal error in charging Gaviria with corruption over a 2005 highway contract — and likewise went way overboard in removing him from office and putting him under house arrest.
Gaviria also revealed that he will appeal the detention order to Colombia’s Supreme Court.
Rather than pointing fingers at anyone over some supposed “smokescreen” or “political plot” as suggested by some demagogues, conspiracy-mongers and certain left-wing journalists, Gaviria instead said he has no indication whatever of any political plot.
Rather, Colombia Attorney General Barbosa and an assistant prosecutor handling the case simply made wrong legal judgments about the disputed highway contract, he said.
Gaviria also noted that the Attorney General has a questionable track record on numerous preventive detention orders, as lawsuits totaling some COP$2 trillion (US$555 million) have been filed against the Attorney General over allegedly wrongful detentions.
Gaviria also stated that he had received messages from numerous jurists and legal experts around Colombia indicating that the Attorney General simply has misunderstood Colombian law regarding alleged irregularities in the “Troncal de La Paz” highway-and-bridge contract executed 15 years ago in Bajo Cauca, Antioquia.
Notably, Gaviria praised Colombia President Ivan Duque for what he said was the correct naming of Antioquia Government Secretary Luis Fernando Suárez Vélez as Acting Governor in the meantime. President Duque personally telephoned Gaviria to advise him of the naming of Suárez following the Attorney General action.
“I have known and worked with Aníbal Gaviria for years,” President Duque announced via his Twitter account. “I have profound respect, recognition and appreciation for him. I offer my solidarity with him and his family,” President Duque said.
Similar praise came from political parties of all stripes – not only the Liberal Party to which Gaviria belongs, but also from notable Centro Democratico leaders, including former President Alvaro Uribe, former Antioquia governors of various political parties, Medellin mayors, departmental and city elected officials, major commercial/industrial trade associations, and “thousands of persons and institutions in Colombia,” Gaviria noted.
Not one of the four alleged “contract irregularities” cited by the Attorney General in fact violated any Colombian law, Gaviria said. Even though Gaviria didn’t personally sign any of those allegedly flawed contracts, the Infrastructure Secretary and other officials in Gaviria’s former government who actually signed those contracts didn’t violate any law, do anything wrong or engage in any corruption, Gaviria stated.
Nor were there any cost-overruns, technical defects or losses in the project executions, he added.
“I am confident in the Colombia justice system, despite errors of some officials” in the Attorney General’s office, he stated. “I will prove my innocence and also that of other officials” in his former Infrastructure Secretariat who signed the contracts, he added.