Two former officials of the former Colombian secret service, DAS, were sentenced to jail, Friday, June 8 for espionage against judges, journalists and opposition leaders, but their boss remains safe in Panama.
The penalties of five years and nine months each were imposed on chief operating officer Luz Marina Rodriguez and Bernardo Murillo, chief of anti corruption in the Department of Administrative Security (DAS), during the government of President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010).
The former officials were acquitted of charges of conspiracy, abuse of public office and illicit violation of communications, although the decision was appealed by the prosecution.
The espionage case became known in 2009 when a magazine revealed that DAS followed and listened to opposition leaders, judges of the Supreme Court, journalists and human rights defenders without authorization from a judge or prosecutor, an illegal practice
Some DAS ex detectives have confessed that the intelligence agency, which reported directly to the presidency but was cleared by the current government of Juan Manuel Santos, became a spy against "political targets" critical of the Uribe government. Some perpetrators have already been sentenced to prison.
The process has also linked Bernardo Moreno, who was secretary general of the presidency and is in prison, and Maria del Pilar Hurtado, who was director of DAS, and was granted asylum in Panama by President Martinelli in 2010 as investigators closed in on her.
Aformer official linked to the DAS. William Romero said during a hearing in August last year by the Committee on Accusations of the House of Representatives that Hurtado and Uribe were aware of the espionage. The committee is investigating reports his government ordered the DAS to spy on judges and opponents.
President Martinelli has described Uribe as a close friend, who has been invited to Panama while investigations continue.