In a move that has stirred up controversy, Colombia's head of state, Gustavo Petro, has bestowed the 'Order of Presidential Security Merit' upon Colonel Carlos Feria, the Security Chief of the Presidency, and others in his close circle, despite their involvement in legal scandals. The honorees include Colonel Feria, who stands accused by the Prosecutor's Office in a polygraph case involving Marelblys Meza, the former nanny to Laura Sarabia—Petro's former Chief of Staff and the current head of the Department of Social Prosperity (DPS).
Implicated Figures and Legal Troubles
In addition to Colonel Feria, other controversial figures who received the honour include Laura Sarabia and General Luis Mauricio Ospina, both of whom are also under legal scrutiny. Adding fuel to the fire, President Petro's son, Nicolas Petro, recently confessed to the Attorney General's Office about irregular inflow of funds into the presidential campaign. General Ospina is under question for ordering investigations into his wife's English teacher.
Legal Charges and Public Outcry
Recently, Colonel Feria and two other officers were charged by the Prosecutor's Office with crimes of embezzlement, public function abuse, and illegal coercion. All accused have declared themselves innocent. The decoration of these figures by President Petro, despite being embroiled in legal controversies, has sparked a heated debate among the public and experts who question the ethics of honouring officials under investigation for alleged misconduct in the exercise of their duties.
Unsettling Political Landscape
This move by Colombian head of state adds an element of tension to the already complex political and judicial scenario enveloping the Colombian government. The controversy escalates when considering that the judge in the case rejected the request for the Military Penal Justice to take over the process, thus maintaining the Prosecutor's Office's competency in the investigation. The uproar generated by these distinctions lies in the apparent contradiction between the recognized merits and the judicial accusations that both honourees face.