On January 31, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, the former head of Colombia’s ex-intelligence agency DAS, returned to Colombia from exile in Panama to face charges of spying on opponents of former President Alvaro Uribe.
Hurtado ended years on the run by turning herself over to authorities in Panama, where she originally fled in 2010. Despite having originally granted her asylum, authorities rejected Hurtado’s second asylum request. She was handed over to Colombian authorities and taken to Bogota, where a judge ordered her to be jailed at the bunker of the Prosecutor General while the charges against her are considered.
The judge has requested Hurtado’s cooperation in revealing the culprit who gave the order for illegal wire-tapping, alleged to have taken place between 2007 and 2008. Human rights defenders, journalists, politicians, and even Supreme Court judges who opposed Uribe, were among the supposed victims. The scandal was said to have taken place on behalf of Uribe himself and under the leadership of Hurtado, who faces 15 to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The accusations against Hurtado threaten to further damage the ex-president’s reputation, after it was announced last week that Uribe is also set to be investigated for his alleged involvement in a 1997 massacre in El Aro, a village in Antioquia that was burned to the ground after paramilitary group AUC murdered 15 citizens. The former president has vehemently denied both allegations, claiming that the scandals are a political ploy against him.