Colombian prosecutor asks judge to shelve probe into ex-president

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Bogota (AFP)

Colombia's public prosecutor said on Friday he would ask a judge to halt an investigation into former president Alvaro Uribe regarding alleged witness tampering and fraud.

Conservative Uribe, 68, is considered Colombia's most influential politician and is the mentor of current President Ivan Duque.

He served as president from 2002 to 2010 and was known for his tough stance on fighting the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas.

He also strongly opposed his successor Juan Manuel Santos's historic 2016 peace accord with FARC that ended a half century of armed conflict by the Marxist rebels.

The investigation surrounds a complaint filed by Uribe in 2012 against leftist senator Ivan Cepeda, whom he accused of hatching a plot to falsely link him to right-wing paramilitary groups.

But the Supreme Court decided against investigating Cepeda and in 2018 instead opened a witness tampering probe against Uribe.

"The case prosecutor has established that some of the behaviors" Uribe is accused of "are not crimes and others that are, cannot be attributed to him as author or participant," said the public prosecutor's office in a statement.

Prosecutor Gabriel Jaimes has requested a hearing to present his case to drop the investigation, which a judge may either grant or deny.

"Thank God for this positive step. Thank you to so many people for your prayers and solidarity," Uribe wrote on Twitter.

Uribe was placed under house arrest by the Supreme Court in August when serving as a senator, but he resigned and two months later was released by a lower court.

As a senator, Uribe's case would have been investigated by the Supreme Court, but his resignation meant the case passed into the jurisdiction of a lower court.

He was thus investigated by pubic prosecutor Francisco Barbosa, a former ally of his protege Duque.

Cepeda has accused investigators of lacking impartiality.