The Colombian Prosecutor’s Office has requested that Nicolás Petro, son of President Gustavo Petro, be brought to trial, in the hearing that began yesterday in Barranquilla against the first-born son of the Colombian president, accused of illicit enrichment and money laundering. Nicolas Petro, who is on probation, was arrested last July 2023 and is facing a criminal case for crimes that the prosecution is trying to link with the electoral campaign of his father, during the presidential elections of 2022.
Petro arrived at the second court in the capital of the Atlantico surrounded by important security measures. During the arraignment, the legally relevant facts were exposed, including that the defendant did not report having investments in bonds, private businesses, donations or other income that could justify the increase of his economic patrimony.
In that sense, the prosecutor pointed out that, although at the end of 2022 in Nicolas Petro’s savings account there was a little more than 280 million pesos, he had expenses higher than that amount. For example, for house down payments or the purchase of a Mercedes Benz car, among other expenses.
Six months of contradictions
Nicolas Petro was arrested on July 29, 2023, following an investigation into claims made by his then-spouse Daysuris Vasquez to Semana magazine. In these statements, Vásquez said that the president’s son had illicitly received funds from individuals linked to drug trafficking and corruption cases, which he had invested in his father Gustavo Petro’s 2022 presidential campaign. Both were apprehended by the Attorney General’s Office and later, during hearings before a judge of guarantees, they opted to cooperate with justice, which resulted in the granting of the benefit of release.
From that day on, President Petro affirmed that his campaign did not receive any illicit funds. In a statement on social networks on August 5, 2023, the president stated: “The campaign did not receive any funding of an illicit nature, and I found out about what happened during a meeting in my office with Nicolas’ ex-wife just a few months ago, when she asked for my son to be investigated”. This position has been reiterated in several public statements since then.
On September 25, Nicolas Petro chose not to cooperate with the Prosecutor’s Office, as he had previously pledged after his arrest in order to secure legal benefits. “Today begins the fight of my life, I knew that the Barbosa Prosecutor’s Office was not to be trusted and today they proved it. They have pushed me to the limit with the sole intention of turning me into a weapon against my father. I decided to stand up and not to kneel before the executioner”, expressed Nicolas Petro in his X profile.
For this reason, the main investigating entity determined to proceed with the indictment and presentation of charges before a specialized magistrate, seeking to bring Nicolas Petro to trial to answer for the crimes attributed to him.
Prosecutor’s Office calls Nicolas Petro to trial
After yesterday’s hearing, the Prosecutor’s Office asked to bring Nicolas Petro to trial, as it understands that there are enough evidentiary elements against the accused, including testimonies and certifications.
According to the prosecutor in the case, Mario Burgos, the accused acknowledged in a public hearing on August 1 that part of the money for which he is being investigated was invested in his father’s election campaign in 2022. “Apparently he exceeded the minimum ceilings allowed by law and part of the investment was not duly reported to the electoral authorities,” the prosecutor said.
Regarding the knowledge of these facts by the current president, Nicolas Petro’s ex-wife Daysuris Vasquez is said to have spoken with Gustavo Petro who “had no idea” of what had happened.
President Petro called for a thorough investigation
Once informed, President Gustavo Petro met with the Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa, to ask for a thorough and independent investigation of his son and of his brother, Juan Fernando Petro, who is also suspected of having received illicit money, despite the fact that he has always stated his innocence and willingness to defend himself against criminal charges.
The president has maintained that he will not intervene in the investigation and the work of the prosecution, despite the constant and public differences he has had with the attorney general, who was appointed during the term of President Ivan Duque and leaves office next February.
“Due to the information that is rumored in public opinion about my brother Juan Fernando Petro Urrego and my eldest son, Nicolas Petro Burgos, I ask the attorney general of the Nation to advance all the necessary investigations and determine possible responsibilities,” explained the head of state in a statement.
The president made it clear that “as a father (my son) will always have my support and affection. As president I have respected judicial independence without hesitation. I expect a criminal action free of political agendas and fully subject to due process and judicial rulings”.
The court defined that the first preparatory hearing for the trial stage against Nicolas Petro will be held on April 29/30.