Spain shelves case against Colombia president-elect
A Spanish court has shelved a complaint against Colombia’s president-elect Gustavo Petro over his alleged ties to a journalist’s kidnapping decades ago while part of a now-defunct guerrilla group.
Spanish court has shelved a complaint against Colombia’s president-elect Gustavo Petro over his alleged ties to a journalist’s kidnapping decades ago while part of a now-defunct guerrilla group.
In the ruling, dated June 24 but released on Wednesday, the National Court accepted a recommendation from prosecutors that the case be shelved because Spain’s judicial system had no jurisdiction.
In mid-May, a judge had accepted the complaint against Petro over the kidnapping of Spanish journalist Fernando Gonzalez Pacheco.
Pacheco was held for a few days in 1981 by the M-19 guerrilla group before being freed unharmed.
The complaint was filed by lawyer Francois Roger Cavard who in 2018 tried to stop Petro from running for president. His argument was that Petro had not been pardoned for crimes committed with M-19, which he joined as a teenager.
In its ruling, the National Court said it was “surprised” at the admission of a complaint “filed by someone who was not a victim of the events in Colombia, which are attributed to persons who are not Spanish and do not normally live in Spain”.
It found that the threshold for activating the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows for the prosecution of serious crimes committed abroad, had not been met.
The case had not been filed by state prosecutors nor by the victim, it noted. Journalist Pacheco died in 2014.
Quoting the public prosecutor’s office, the court also said the complaint had failed to provide “sufficient information” about the “specific circumstances” of his kidnapping.
“Regardless of the fact that the kidnapping was for terrorist ends (which is not even stated in the complaint) and that the victim was a Spaniard, the case can only be rejected,” said the ruling.
Ex-guerrilla Petro, 62, made history on June 20 when he was elected as the first leftwing president in Colombia’s history after winning just over 50 percent of the vote in a run-off against millionnaire businessman Rodolfo Hernandez.
He will assume office on August 7.