At noon on Monday, Raúl Florentín, criminal judge of guarantees of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), resolved the judicial assistance requested by the Bicameral Investigation Commission (CBI) on money laundering to force Horacio Cartes, former president of the Republic to appear before it, even with the help of the police force.
The judge’s decision was not to give rise to the request of the CBI, because Cartes has privileges in his capacity as former president and senator for life. The magistrate explained that article 11 of Law 137/93 “What establishes the joint investigation commissions”, is clear in the sense that people who enjoy privileges do not have the obligation to appear. The article in question reads what follows verbatim; “The provisions of the civil procedure code and the criminal procedure code, including the modalities provided for witnesses who enjoy special privileges, shall be of supplementary application.”
“It is not a whimsical decision. There are already precedents with Wasmosy and Andrés Rodríguez, which is why article 11 is applicable. He (for Cartes) can decide to go or stick to the regulation modality”, he explained. Florentín will only limit himself to informing the former president that he was summoned for this Tuesday, September 6 at 9:30 in the morning to appear in the National Congress. But if he does not attend, he is only exposed to a fine or a symbolic custodial sentence of a few days, but he cannot be compelled to attend by force.
“What we are going to do is communicate about the hearing but we will not order the public forces to force him to appear,” he said. According to article 5 of Law 137/93 “Which establishes the joint investigation commissions”, the person summoned who does not appear and does not offer just cause for his absence will be liable to pay a fine of 30 to 100 minimum daily wages (G. 2.9 million to G. 9.8 million) for various unspecified activities in the capital or undergo house arrest for 6 to 15 days.
Last Friday, Pedro Ovelar, the former president’s lawyer, had anticipated that they will only respond to queries in writing. Faced with this setback caused by Judge Florentín’s decision, it remains to be defined whether the CBI changes its position and decides to accept this type of response or not.