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Detained Colombia ex-president has coronavirus, party says

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 30, 2018, former Colombian president (2002-2010) and senator Alvaro Uribe Velez, answers questions during a press conference at his residence in Rionegro, Antioquia department, Colombia on July 30, 2018. – Former President Alvaro Uribe, tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus a day after the Supreme Court of Justice ordered his house arrest, the press service of his party, the Centro Democratico (Democratic Center), reported on August 5, 2020. (Photo by JOAQUIN SARMIENTO / AFP)


Former Colombia president Alvaro Uribe tested positive for coronavirus a day before the Supreme Court placed him under house arrest, his political party said on Wednesday.

Uribe was “in good health” despite his diagnosis, the Democratic Center party told AFP.

The court, which held a hearing Tuesday into witness tampering accusations, ordered the 68-year-old to be put under house arrest after deeming there were “possible risks” he would attempt to obstruct justice.

Local media had speculated about his health after spotting a medical team entering his home in the northern Cordoba department.

Uribe, currently a senator, faces bribery and procedural fraud charges and could serve up to eight years in prison if convicted of allegations that he used his position as a lawmaker to tamper with a witness.

He has always insisted on his innocence and enjoys strong popular support due to his hardline stance on fighting the country’s leftist guerrillas, especially the once-powerful Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

News of his house arrest brought rival demonstrators out into the streets both in support and against Uribe.

The right-wing politician was questioned by judges in October 2019 — the first time a former president had appeared before Colombia’s highest court.

In 2012, Uribe filed a complaint against leftist senator Ivan Cepeda, who Uribe says hatched a plot to falsely link him to paramilitary groups.

But in 2018, the court instead opened a witness tampering investigation against Uribe, who was president from 2002-2010.


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