| 16 July 2024, Tuesday |

Colombia President Petro’s son arrested in money laundering probe

Nicolas Petro, the son of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, was arrested early Saturday as part of an investigation into money laundering and unlawful enrichment, according to the attorney general’s office.

The younger Petro, a lawmaker in Atlantico province, welcomed the inquiry when it began in March and has previously denied taking money from drug traffickers in exchange for integrating them in his father’s peace efforts.

Also arrested on money laundering and personal data violation accusations was Nicolas’ ex-wife Daysuris del Carmen Vasquez, who earlier this year told local media two people accused of involvement with drug trafficking had given Nicolas money for his father’s campaign.

Petro said on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, that it was painful for one of his children to be jailed, but that the attorney general’s office had all guarantees to proceed according to the law.

“To my son I wish luck and strength. May these occurrences forge his character and may he reflect about his own errors,” the president said. “As I affirmed to the attorney general I will not intervene nor pressure his decisions, may the law freely guide the process.”

The president has pledged to make peace or surrender deals with rebels and crime gangs to end Colombia’s 60-year internal conflict, which has killed 450,000 people.

Efforts have been met with mixed success during his first year in office. Revived negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group have led to a ceasefire set to begin in August, while efforts to hold conversations with major crime gang the Clan del Golfo have faltered due to continued violence.

A proposed law to regulate crime group surrenders, giving participants lower sentences in exchange for information and restorative work, has drawn harsh critique including from the attorney general.

The attorney general’s office will request to a judge that the younger Petro and Vasquez be held on the charges, it said.

“Charges will be formulated for the aforementioned crimes and liberty restriction measures will be requested,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement, adding the arrests took place at 6 a.m. local time (1100 GMT).

  • Reuters