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Suspended mayor of Colombia capital jailed as flight risk

Bogota's Samuel Moreno, charged with accepting bribes, is taken into custody, the latest high-profile Colombian official or former official to be imprisoned for alleged crimes.

September 24, 2011|By Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times
  • Suspended Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno attends a court hearing in the Colombian capital. A judge ordered him jailed as a flight risk.
Suspended Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno attends a court hearing in the Colombian… (John Vizcaino, Reuters )

Reporting from Bogota, Colombia — Suspended Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno — who is facing corruption charges — was jailed Friday, the latest high-profile Colombian official or former official to be imprisoned for alleged crimes.

On trial for allegedly accepting bribes from contractors in return for public works contracts, Moreno, 51, was deemed by the presiding judge to be a flight risk and remanded to the capital's high-security La Picota prison.

Moreno, the grandson of Colombian army general and strongman Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, was three years into his term when he was suspended in May by the inspector general to face the charges. President Juan Manuel Santos named Clara Lopez to serve out Moreno's term, which ends Dec. 31.

The charges revolve around a multimillion-dollar contract to Grupo Nule for a new road from central Bogota to El Dorado International Airport, one of the most important public works projects in the country. The project has suffered extensive delays and cost overruns.

In court Monday, Moreno refused to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence, saying he had no involvement in the alleged scheme. His brother Ivan, a Colombian senator also facing charges in the case, was previously jailed.

In a separate case, Jorge Noguera, the former director of Colombia's top investigative and spy agency, DAS, under President Alvaro Uribe, this month was sentenced to 25 years in prison for collaborating with paramilitary death squads. Information he fed to militias allegedly resulted in several deaths.

In July, former Uribe agriculture minister Andres Felipe Arias was ordered to jail. He faces charges that he funneled illegal farm subsidies in exchange for promises from recipients to support his presidential campaign.

Kraul is a special correspondent.

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