Colombian Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez attends a military ceremony to promote new Generals and Admirals of the Police and Military Forces at the Jose Maria Cordova Military School in Bogota, on Dec 17, 2022. (DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP)
MEXICO CITY – Colombian President Gustavo Petro said Monday he would not accept any "order for the arrest" of his defense minister after a Guatemalan prosecutor accused the official of illegal acts.
Earlier on Monday, the head of Guatemala's Special Prosecutor's Office Against Impunity Rafael Curruchiche said his unit would begin "legal actions" against Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez, a former UN anti-corruption investigator in Guatemala.
A Guatemalan prosecutor said Defense Minister Ivan Velasquez would need to answer for "illegal, arbitrary and abusive acts" relating to an investigation into alleged bribery involving the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht
While Curruchiche announced arrest warrants for several individuals, including Guatemala's former Attorney General Thelma Aldana, he did not say Velasquez had been issued one.
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Instead, the prosecutor said Velasquez would need to answer for "illegal, arbitrary and abusive acts" relating to an investigation into alleged bribery involving the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht.
Velasquez, 67, led the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala from 2013-2019, drawing global attention in 2015 for the body's investigations into a criminal ring that implicated Guatemala's then-president, who resigned and was arrested.
Velasquez "showed how to fight against corruption and we won't permit corruption to come after him," Petro wrote on Twitter, adding that he had summoned Colombia's ambassador in Guatemala to discuss the issue.
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On Monday, Velasquez issued a statement on the "alleged investigation," saying that he had not been notified of any requests from Guatemalan authorities involving him.
"I have the peace of mind that the work carried out in the Central American country was done with total transparency and within the legal framework that supported CICIG's operations," Velasquez said in the statement.