Cablegate: Prosecutor General Continues Reforms Amid Criticism

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

id: 16485
date: 4/29/2004 15:25
refid: 04BOGOTA4332
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination: 04BOGOTA3618
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 004332




E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/25/2014

REF: A. BOGOTA 03618

B. BOGOTA 03619

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d).


1. (S) Although he cannot evade responsibility for presiding
for thirty-three months over an institution polluted by
corruption, Prosecutor General ("Fiscal") Luis Camilo Osorio
has followed through on his promise to remove officials who
fail polygraph exams or are otherwise suspected of
corruption. He has also responded quickly to specific
Embassy information on corrupt officials. Several former
officials have fought back in the press. Based on evidence
of corruption, much of which was discovered and provided to
Osorio by the Embassy, we lend little credence to these
officials' attempts to defend themselves. Osorio must
continue to apply strict standards of institutional rectitude
and empower his new internal anti-corruption unit with the
authority, resources, and independence needed to do its job.
From the USG's perspective, ensuring the unit's integrity is
imperative. End Summary.

Osorio Removes Suspected Prosecutors

2. (S) On April 12, Prosecutor General ("Fiscal") Luis Camilo
Osorio announced the dismissal of Luis Fernando Torres,
former director of the Anti-Narcotics and Maritime
Interdiction Unit (UNAIM) at the Office of the Prosecutor
General ("Fiscalia"). Torres tested "inconclusive" on a
recent polygraph exam administered by FBI specialists, and
then refused to take another. Osorio also dismissed Alvaro
Bayona, an UNAIM prosecutor suspected of tampering with
evidence against reputed narcotrafficker Leonidas Vargas,
alias "El Viejo." Bayona, who reported to Torres, is accused
of "losing" five sensitive files containing key evidence
against Vargas and his criminal organization. Bayona claims
he was fired because he was about to call for an
investigation against Colonel Oscar Naranjo, director of the
Colombian National Police's (CNP) Office of Judicial Police
(DIJIN). Bayona has not presented any evidence, and the
Embassy has no information that would support his claim that
Naranjo is corrupt. Both Torres and Bayona have also
publicly accused Osorio of removing them to stop their
investigations of narcotraffickers. We lend little credence
to these allegations; Osorio's decision to dismiss both men
occurred after we urged that they be removed.

3. (S) On April 15, Osorio fired two more UNAIM prosecutors
Omaira Gomez and Efren Anibal Garcia. Gomez, who authored
a letter published in the press criticizing the polygraph
process (ref A), is accused of inexplicably dismissing eleven
cases against criminal organizations. Gomez was not included
in the recent polygraphs because she recently passed one.
Garcia, who failed the polygraph, is suspected of conspiring
with Torres to help two individuals evade extradition, which
one successfully achieved. On April 16, the Fiscalia
announced the dismissal of Hayde Lopez, an investigator in
the Fiscalia's National Anti-Corruption Unit (not to be
confused with the newly proposed internal anti-corruption
unit). These dismissals bring to at least seven the number
of senior Fiscalia officials recently removed for corruption.
In addition, Osorio has removed many mid-level officials,
such as sixteen prosecutors and investigators in Cali, Valle
del Cauca department, who were suspected of colluding with
paramilitaries and narcotraffickers.

4. (S) On April 26, Emboffs spoke with Osorio to recommend
that another five UNAIM prosecutors -- Jesus Albeiro Yepes,
Carlos Ivan Mejia, Gladys Sofia Bautista, Dario Serrano, and
Luz Marina Gutierrez -- and one assistant -- Luz Estela
Encizo -- be dismissed. The Embassy had credible derogatory
information on all six. Emboffs also asked that two
prosecutors fired earlier by Torres -- Maria Cristina Munoz
and Mery Estela Gorzon (strictly protect both) -- be
reinstated. Osorio dismissed the six suspect UNAIM officials
and rehired Munoz and Gorzon that same evening.

Progress on the Anti-Corruption Unit

5. (S) Osorio is continuing polygraphs and pushing for
investigations of suspect officials. Contrary to some public
criticisms, Osorio has not relied solely on polygraph results
in making decisions to remove prosecutors. For example, he
has dismissed some officials who passed the exam -- such as
Gomez -- based on other compelling evidence of misconduct.
In addition, Osorio has ordered the creation of an
investigative/prosecutorial commission to look into
allegations of corruption.

6. (S) In an April 5 meeting with Osorio, the Ambassador
emphasized that, in order for the USG to continue its
assistance to the Fiscalia, it was imperative that members of
the new internal anti-corruption unit be polygraphed, and
that all officials from throughout the Fiscalia who do not
pass the polygraph be removed from USG-assisted units and
programs (ref B). Osorio agreed to both these conditions.
(The Embassy has been polygraphing Fiscalia officials in
these programs since 2000, and Osorio has been supportive of
the process. However, he has not always been diligent in
follow-up investigations.) On April 23 Osorio spoke again
with the Ambassador to review the actions he has already
instituted, and those he is considering taking.

Further Steps

7. (S) The atmosphere in the press and the Fiscalia itself is
tense. The dismissals and new lie detector requirements are
producing a flood of protests, accusations, and self-serving
statements, most aimed at Osorio. The Embassy will continue
-- in private -- to insist that Osorio remove and prosecute
corrupt officials, in addition to establishing an internal
anti-corruption unit that is itself polygraphed. Osorio
recognizes that more needs to be done. He approached the
Ambassador about further polygraphs (the Embassy will
assist). He seems ready to continue to relieve corrupt
officials. End Comment.

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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