Former Colombian President, Álvaro Uribe has tested positive for coronavirus, just one day after the country’s Supreme Court issued a house arrest order for him.
“President Álvaro Uribe has tested positive for Covid-19. However, his state of health is optimal, he has not presented any major symptoms, or any respiratory difficulties,” Gabriel Velasco, senator and spokesman for the Democratic Center party, said Wednesday.
The former President, who is currently a senator in Colombia, was ordered to be put under house arrest on Tuesday, in relation to a case investigating alleged witness tampering.
The case dates back to 2012, when Uribe alleged that opposition congressman Ivan Cepeda was orchestrating an effort to link him to far-right militant groups, spurring an investigation into both politicians. In 2018, the Supreme Court cleared Cepeda – but said that it was investigating Uribe for similar tampering practices.
Uribe has always denied the accusations. On Tuesday, the former president reacted on Twitter before the court order was made public, saying house arrest “causes huge sadness to my wife, my family and to Colombians who still believe that I have done something good for my country.”
Uribe is one of Colombia’s most divisive political figures. His presidency followed decades of narco-guerrillas’ violence and a failed peace process between the government and the leftist FARC guerrilla group.
His “tough hand” approach with the guerrilla groups largely restored the country’s economy and most importantly, a sense of safety and security among Colombians. But his tactics also caused deep resentment.
News of his house arrest shocked Colombia. Supporters and opponents of the former president gathered in in the capital Bogota late Tuesday after the Supreme Court’s decision was published.
Similarly, the political world was deeply divided along party lines. Colombian President Ivan Duque, a protege of Uribe’s, said on Tuesday he believes in the former president’s innocence.
“I am and will always be a believer in the innocence and honor of someone who has earned a place in the history of Colombia through his example,” said Duque on his official Twitter account.
Opposition figures, such as Bogota’s mayor Claudia Lopez and former presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, applauded the decision and called on all state institutions to respect the independence of the judiciary system.
Uribe’s fate remains uncertain for now. His house arrest forbids him from leaving the country, but he won’t have to appear in front of a judge until at least the end of August, as courts are working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
CNNE’s Fernando Ramos contributed to this report from Bogota.