Colombia’s Financial Intelligence Director to Await Trial in Relative Freedom

Mario Aranguren, former director of Colombia’s financial intelligence agency (UIAF) was freed from house arrest late last week. He is awaiting trial for illegally spying on Supreme Court magistrates, journalists, politicians and human rights organizations, peering into their finances without permission or warrant. He had originally been placed under house arrest while the Prosecutor General’s Office prepared evidence against him for his role in the wiretap scandal that drew international ire, charging him with breach of public duty, intent to commit a crime, and abuse of authority. Colombia’s Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez alleged in February that Aranguren had given “instructions to officials of the institution he headed to participate in a meeting on April 24, 2008, where the restricted information was supplied,” to President Alvaro Uribe’s personal secretary Bernardo Moreno.

In the months since his May 2010 arrest, though, the prosecutors could not gather enough evidence to call Aranguren to trial on time and a judge declared that the 10 month delay in the investigation no longer justifies his house arrest. An investigation into the matter continues by both Colombian and international judicial authorities while Aranguren awaits his trial in freedom. Aranguren maintains his innocence with support from President Uribe. Uribe rejected Aranguren’s resignation, citing his outstanding performance as head of UIAF.

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