EspañolColombia’s Constitutional Court president, Judge Jorge Ignacio Pretelt, announced on Monday, March 2, that he will not resign his post, despite requests from his colleagues. Pretelt is currently facing allegations of having solicited a bribe from the oil company Fidupetrol.
Constitutional Court Judge Mauricio González Cuervo filed a formal complaint against Pretelt on Friday, February 27, accusing him of requesting COL$500 million (US$200,000) from Fidupetrol’s attorney in return for suspending a fine of COL$22.5 billion (US$9 million) levied against the company. The fine stemmed from a judgement in a separate corruption case involving the governor of Casanare in mid-eastern Colombia.
Pretelt has insisted on his innocence and said he will not leave his position as president of the Constitutional Court as it would affect the “the presumption of innocence” and his “right to defend himself in court.” The judge, however, admitted to having met Fidupetro attorney Victor Pacheco several times.
“Yes, it’s true, I know Victor Pacheco. He came three times to my office in the court, and I know it because it is registered. Furthermore, he’s made 40 visits to other courts,” he said. “I have hosted him three times, but never to talk about cases heard by court.… I even meet him at social events, and he came to my house twice in 2013.”
A former judge on the Constitutional Court, Nilson Pinilla, also accused Pretelt of having acted arbitrarily in some cases, adding that he often chose to hear cases that corresponded to wealthy people in the Caribbean.
Pretelt has argued that the charges against him are politically motivated because of his role in cutting pension benefits for judges and congressmen.