The former Minister of Agriculture Andrés Felipe Arias was sentenced in a single instance to 17 years in prison in 2014. EFE/Giorgio Viera/Archive
On the morning of this Friday, January 3, the former Minister of Agriculture Andrés Felipe Arias appeared before the Supreme Court of Justice, specifically before the Hearing Chamber, where the magistrates ratified his sentence of 17 years in prison imposed in 2014, for the case of Agro Secure Income.
Sentence of Andrés Felipe Arias will be read on February 3: his 17-year sentence will be ratified, modified or overturned
The Decision Chamber, which studied the special appeal filed by the former minister, has already notified Arias’ defense, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office of the hearing
After rereading the sentence that, in 2020, had been evaluated by the Constitutional Court, which ordered that it be reviewed again before being made final, the Supreme Court announced that the former official of the also investigated former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez had been responsible in the lawsuit. court that involved the AIS, for this reason, he will have to pay almost twenty years in prison. For now, Arias had a house for jail.
As established by the togados, it could never be established that Arias was not aware of the financial anomalies around the program that former president Uribe advanced in his government to help peasant families in their agricultural work; For this reason, the then person in charge of the AIS must answer before the Colombian justice system.
Former minister Andrés Felipe Arias with his political mentor, former president Alvaro Uribe
The conviction against him was ratified in the presence of his defense attorney Gerson Chaverra, who heard the reasons why the Court, at the request of the Attorney General’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office, asked to sentence the controversial politician who, years ago, sounded to be one of the bishops of uribismo to the Presidency of the Republic.
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The leader of the Democratic Center predicted that the decision will have an impact on employment and bank portfolios, “because citizens will not be able to meet their debts.”
The almost twenty years that Arias will have to pay in prison has to do with the crimes of contract without compliance with legal requirements and embezzlement for appropriation due to vices in agreements 03 of 2007, 055 of 2008 and 052 of 2009. These contracts occurred between the portfolio that was directed by the today condemned and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on the Agriculture Portfolio (IICA).
There, according to the folio that rests before the courts, irregularities were committed, as it was done directly and not through public bidding, as stipulated by law for any national ministry.
“The charge against Arias was for contract crimes without compliance with legal requirements, embezzlement for appropriation in favor of third parties in a homogeneous and heterogeneous contest as author and circumstances of greater criminality provided for in various articles of the Penal Code,” said the reading magistrate this Friday.
The former official turned out to be responsible for contracts without legal requirements and embezzlement for appropriation in favor of third parties,
The sentence had been stipulated in 2014 after the former minister was found guilty of the aforementioned crimes and now, to ratify his sentence, it was explained why those movements were anomalous and, clearly, violated Colombian law: “The object of the legal business has nothing to do with science and technology so that direct contracting would have been chosen, ignoring the objective selection principle,” said the magistrate in the middle of the hearing.
To reach these determinations, the Criminal Chamber analyzed endless probative material and listened to the testimonies of several witnesses who ratified, then, that Arias did know about the anomalies that occurred within the program that he heads against the then president Álvaro Uribe.
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In November 2022, the high court had announced the decision on the grounds that there was no evidence to link the former president to this alleged crime of buying votes in the campaign.
After learning the news, in the midst of the hearing that continues to progress on Friday morning, the reactions have not waited. For example, from Uribe’s party, the Democratic Center, they expressed solidarity against the former head of portfolio and told him in a trill:
“Andrés Felipe Arias and his family have suffered immense damage with the sentence that we do not share and that has shown partiality and biases. We trust in justice and in the guarantee of the principle of double instance. The Democratic Center knows of his innocence”, asserted the community.
It is worth mentioning that on November 10, Yesid Arocha, legal director of Odebrecht in Colombia, revealed to the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation that Andrés Felipe Arias, allegedly, did receive money in the midst of the scandal that that entity experienced due to corruption actions .
“I am told that this contract cannot be consulting or management, but must have another purpose: to do some studies for a project,” said the former manager.
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