Colombian leader's son freed amid ongoing probe into money laundering

Nicolas Petro, the eldest son of Colombian President Gustavo Petro, admits illegal money entered his father's election campaign last year. (Photo/AP Archive)

The son of Colombian President Gustavo Petro has been paroled after he was arrested on money laundering and illicit enrichment charges in a scandal linked to his father's election campaign.

Nicolas Petro, the eldest of the leftist president's children, was arrested last week, initially denying the charges but later agreeing to collaborate with authorities.

Judge Omar Beltran ordered the release of Petro, 37, but said he would not be allowed to leave the northern city of Barranquilla where he lives and banned him from contacting those involved in the investigation.

"The request for the imposition of a security measure, but not custodial measures, for Mr. Nicolas Fernando Petro, is granted," Beltran said.

Prosecutors requested house arrest for Petro.

Petro's defense lawyer David Teleki expressed concern for his client's safety if he were to be jailed: "if he were to go to jail, your honour, he wouldn't last 24 hours,"

"He is a key witness to completely disrupt a corrupt structure that must be investigated," the lawyer told the court. "For this, it is indispensable that Nicolas Petro, his voice, his words cannot be silenced... by pressures of any kind."

Campaign funds

On Thursday, Petro told prosecutors that money from a drug cartel filtered into his father's campaign last year, a confession aimed at mitigating his own exposure to the charges.

Prosecutors said during the Thursday hearing that Petro received about $102,000 (400 million pesos) from Samuel Santander Lopesierra, a former Colombian senator who served a US prison sentence for drug trafficking.

Some of the funds were used by Petro himself and the rest "went into the 2022 presidential campaign," prosecutors said.

Petro may have received a similar sum from Alfonso "The Turk" Hilsaca, a businessman who has been implicated in financing right-wing paramilitary groups, they added.

President Petro was not named in investigators' documents, but his wife and Nicolas's stepmother, first lady Veronica Alcocer, was included.

The president has said he recognised the independence of the judiciary in charging his son, and has denied any criminal activity.


Source: TRT