REPORTING FROM BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Suspended Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno, who is facing corruption charges, was jailed Friday, the latest high-profile Colombian official or former official to be imprisoned for alleged crimes.
On trial for allegedly accepting bribes from contractors in return for public works contracts, Moreno, 51, was deemed by the presiding judge to be a flight risk and remanded to the city’s high-security La Picota prison.
Moreno, the grandson of Colombian army general and strongman Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, was three years into his term when he was suspended in May by the inspector general to face the charges. President Juan Manuel Santos named Clara Lopez to serve out Moreno’s term ending Dec. 31.
The charges revolve around a multimillion-dollar contract to Grupo Nule for a new road from central Bogota to El Dorado International Airport, one of the most important public works projects in the country. The project has suffered extensive delays and cost overruns.
In court Monday, Moreno refused to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence, saying he had no involvement in the alleged scheme. His brother Ivan, a Colombian senator, also facing charges in the case, was previously jailed.
In a separate case, Jorge Noguera, the former director of Colombia’s top investigative and spy agency DAS under President Alvaro Uribe, this month was sentenced to 25 years in jail for collaborating with paramilitary death squads. Information he fed to militias allegedly resulted in several deaths.
In July, former Uribe agriculture minister Andres Felipe Arias was ordered to jail. He faces charges he funneled illegal farm subsidies in exchange for promises from recipients to support his presidential campaign.
-- Chris Kraul
PHOTO: Suspended Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno at a court hearing in Bogota September 20, 2011. CREDIT: Fredy Builes/Reuters