- Title: COLOMBIA: PRESIDENT ERNESTO SAMPER CLEARED OF DRUG CORRUPTION CHARGES
- Date: 12th June 1996
- Summary: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (JUNE 12, 1996) (RTV) GV/SV VARIOUS OF CONGRESS VOTING/ CONGRESS SPEAKER CALLING CONGRESS TO VOTE ON WHETHER TO ABSOLVE PRESIDENT ERNESTO SAMPER OF ANY WRONGDOING ON CORRUPTION CHARGES, CONGRESS VOTING TO ABSOLVE SAMPER (4 SHOTS) 0.50 SV LUIS GUILLERMO NIETO ROA, LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT ERNESTO SAMPER, SAYING PRESIDENT SAMPER IS A CLEAR EXAMPLE OF DEMOCRACY AND IT SHOWS COLOMBIA'S DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS CAN FUNCTION AND SHOWS THESE INSTITUTIONS CAN RESOLVE THE MOST DIFFICULT CRISES (SPANISH) 1.16 SV/GV VARIOUS OF SAMPER SUPPORTERS DEMONSTRATING IN THE STREET OUTSIDE CONGRESS/WOMAN SHOUTING SAMPER IS INNOCENT (SPANISH) (4 SHOTS) 1.42 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 27th June 1996 13:00
- Location: BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
- Country: Colombia
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA219NJCOM21V5ROQ4KCLNMYTX5
- Story Text: INTRO: The Colombian parliament has cleared President Ernesto Samper of any wrongdoing stemming from drug corruption charges.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- The lower house of Colombia's Congress voted late on Wednesday (June 12) to absolve President Ernesto Samper of any wrongdoing stemming from charges that his 1994 election campaign was partly financed by drug traffickers.
With the vote in the 165-member House of Representatives, which is dominated by members of Samper's own Liberal Party, the embattled president was cleared once and for all of possible impeachment on drug corruption charges filed against him last February by Colombia's chief prosecutor.
The vote -- an overwhelming 111-43 in Samper's favour -- exonerated him of "political" responsibility for any irregularities committed during his campaign as well as criminal wrongdoing. Had he been found guilty of political responsibilty, he might have been suspended from office on a charge of "indignity" or unworthiness of high office.
Samper was accused by Prosecutor-General Alfonso Valdivieso, a highly-respected anti-drug crusader, of four crimes stemming from his alleged receipt of millions of dollars in narcotics money to bankroll his campaign.
But a majority of House members argued during two weeks of debate in the run-up to their vote that there was no solid evidence to prove that the president personally approved the use of "dirty money" to back his bid for the country's top job.
The House vote was hailed by Samper's lawyer, Luis Guillermo Nieto Roa, as a landmark in Colombia's legal history and proof that its "democratic institutions can function" even in the midst of the country's worst political crisis in decades.
"It should satisfy all Colombians," Nieto said. "The president has been morally, legally and politically empowered to begin a process of recovery that is sure to lead to the government's success in the months ahead." This marks the first time in Colombian history that the fate of a sitting president was decided by the legislature and the third time this decade that a South American head of state faced impeachment on corruption charges.
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