Colombia names attorney general amid political unrest under Gustavo Petro

Luz Adriana Camargo Garzon will lead probes into President Petro and his son after weeks of delay in the appointment process.

Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice has chosen Luz Adriana Camargo Garzon as the country’s new attorney general, amid ongoing turmoil for the government of President Gustavo Petro.

Camargo was a former judge who worked for the attorney general’s office for 12 years, starting in the 1990s. She was also a prosecutor assigned to the Supreme Court of Justice, where she investigated ties between legislators and right-wing paramilitary groups.

She is set to direct several delicate investigations, including a probe into accusations of illegal financing in Petro’s 2022 presidential campaign.

The attorney general’s office is also in the midst of prosecuting Petro’s eldest son Nicolas, a former provincial legislator, for alleged corruption and money laundering, as part of an investigation that began more than a year ago.

“With 18 votes, Luz Adriana Camargo Garzon was elected as the country’s new attorney general,” Gerson Chaverra, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, told journalists on Tuesday. A total of 23 judges were eligible to vote.

The previous attorney general — Francisco Barbosa, a prominent Petro critic — saw his four-year term end in February. Camargo’s appointment comes amid weeks of political tensions and protests over delays in naming an official to the role.

In January, Petro presented three candidates to the Supreme Court to succeed Barbosa, having pledged to fill the impending vacancy with a woman. But the voting process had stalled in the weeks since.

Last month, hundreds of pro-Petro protesters surrounded the Supreme Court to demonstrate against the slowdown.

The United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called for Barbosa’s replacement to be named swiftly, without any additional pressure on the court.

On Tuesday, before Camargo was voted in, there was another shake-up in the process: Amelia Perez, long considered the frontrunner to fill the role, announced she would withdraw her candidacy.

Perez’s prospects had dimmed in recent days, after her husband’s social media posts became the subject of scandal.

According to publications like Semana magazine, Perez’s husband Gregorio Oviedo had used his online platforms to insult the Supreme Court and other judges, as well as blast the investigation into Petro’s son.

Petro himself has been critical of the attorney general’s office for its probes into his campaign, and he has denied any wrongdoing. The first leftist president in Colombia’s modern history, Petro has also faced steep opposition from right-wing lawmakers.

Prior to her appointment on Tuesday, Camargo worked for the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) between 2014 and 2017, where she directed the investigations team. While in that role, she was a colleague of current Defence Minister Ivan Velasquez.

Carmago also consulted with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the case of three Ecuadorean journalists kidnapped and killed by a Colombian armed group.

As Colombia’s new attorney general, Carmago will oversee a case alleging that the younger Petro received money from accused drug traffickers in exchange for beneficial treatment in his father’s “Total Peace” plan — a framework for ending the armed conflict that has gripped Colombia for nearly 60 years.

Carmago will also manage the long-running case against right-wing former President Alvaro Uribe for witness tampering and fraud, allegedly part of a scheme to discredit accusations he had ties to paramilitary groups.

Uribe has denied the accusations against him.

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