Arturo Char Resigns From Colombian Senate To Fight Vote-Buying Allegations
Colombian Senator Arturo Char Chaljub resigned from his position last Friday, February 3 as the Colombian Supreme Court continues its investigation of electoral corruption., Char is accused of vote buying, an all-too-common crime in coastal and rural areas of Colombia.
Char submitted his irrevocable resignation to Senate President Roy Barreras, where he explains that he feels the need to face the accusations as an ordinary citizen and focus all of his efforts in “preparing my defense, [and disproving] the accumulation of unfounded accusations.”
“While I was a congressman, I devoted all my time to it, even to the detriment of my family. At this moment I must dedicate all my energy to preparing my defense, disprove the accumulation of unfounded accusations that people with dark interests and a desire for revenge have made about me and my family and this is incompatible with the multiple responsibilities that arise from the function of Senator of the Republic,” he said in his resignation letter.
Barreras tweeted that the Senate has accepted Char’s resignation from the position, and that former governor of Huila Carlos Julio González will occupy Char’s vacancy in the meantime since the seats correspond to him electorally.
Char is being accused of electoral corruption and conspiracy to commit a crime after he allegedly helped buy votes as a favor for former senator—and former lover of his brother, Alex Char—Aída Merlano in the 2018 elections. Merlano, who herself was convicted in 2020 for running a vote-buying scheme in Barranquilla and sentenced to more than 11 years in prison, is currently facing extradition from Venezuela to Colombia. Merlano escaped from prison in Bogotá and fled to Venezuela by (incredibly) convincing prison authorities to take her from prison to a teeth-whitening appointment in a glamorous neighborhood in the north of Bogotá, then jumping out of the window and fleeing on a waiting motorcycle while prison guards waited docilly for her in the dentist lobby.
“More than four years ago, the Special Investigation Chamber of the Honorable Supreme Court of Justice opened an investigation against me and, last November, it issued a formal order for the opening of an investigation in which I was summoned to an investigation and, once this occurs, remain, formally linked to the process,” said Char.
“My principles and values lead me to be sensible and what better way than to defend myself before the Honorable Court with total transparency, from my position as a citizen.”
Char, who is a member of the Cambio Radical political party and who received some of the highest levels of voter support in the last election, thanked his party colleagues, his supporters, “members of my caucus, the citizens, and my family” for the trust that they gave him in electing him to the Senate, a position that he held for over 17 years before his resignation, Infobae reported.
“I will always answer the call of the Honorable Supreme Court of Justice, and my natural judge, when so required. It is clear to me that I have all the evidence that will allow me to disprove the hypotheses that affirm my connection to criminal acts in which I never participated. At this point in life, my goal is to restore my good name and provide all the necessary elements that will allow them to conclude that I have always acted in compliance with the law.”