By Mario A. Flores
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BOGOTA, Colombia — The President of Colombia’s Supreme Court, Augusto Ibañez, said that several justices of the Court received death threats late this week.
The presiding justice of the Criminal Division, Julio Enrique Socha Salamanca, reported that he received a letter containing intimidation and threats to his office. The letter also listed threats against an assistant judge.
Socha Salamanca immediately notified law enforcement and ordered tighter security for each of the judges and their staff.
The authorities disclosed that they had also discovered intimidation schemes against other judges of the Supreme Court, a former peace commissioner and two political leaders.
The Director of the National Police, Oscar Naranjo, confirmed that a number of Supreme Court judges and politicians have been threatened. Naranjo said the police are taking the necessary steps to safeguard the security of those in danger.
The plot involves threats to the lives of chief judge Ibañez, judge Jaime Arrubla Paucar, former peace commissioner Victor G. Ricardo, presidential candidate German Vargas Lleras and one of his staunchest supporters, Senator Rodrigo Lara Restrepo.
The Police are dealing with the threats “with utmost prudence and greatest responsibility, without underestimating them, but without causing panic, verifying all information provided,” Naranjo added. It is not known who sent the threat messages or who is behind intimidation attempts.
Judge Socha said that he planned to meet next week with President Alvaro Uribe to discuss the threats.
Supreme Court justice, Jaime Arrubla, said in an interview that several of his colleagues believed they were being followed.
“We don’t exactly know where they [the threats] come from, we only know that they exist, unfortunately they are intensifying,” Arrubla said. “It appears they want to besiege us.”
For more information, please see:
Colombia Reports – Police confirms threats against Supreme Court judges and politicians – 21 August 2009
The Latin American Herald Tribune – Colombian Police Probe Threats Against Judges, Politicos – 21 April 2009
Colombia Reports – Supreme Court judges receive death threats – 20 August 2009