Local officials have yet to receive any formal capture request from Interpol for longtive fugitive and former Colombian intelligence director Maria del Pilar Hurtado, the president of Panama said Friday.
Just this past Thursday, Colombian authorities reportedly submitted the most recent in a series of capture requests for Hurtado, who fled to Panama in 2010 amid ongoing criminal investigations. Interpol, however, has yet to issue any formal order that Hurtado be taken into custody, according to Panamian President Juan Carlos Varela.
“There has never been a capture order on the level of Interpol,” said Varela, speaking with Colombia’s Caracol Radio. “What there has been is a extradition request on behalf of the Colombian government that has been reiterated and will have to be attended to by the Panamian Foreign Ministry.”
Panama, he said, is not interested in negotiating a proposed intelligence sharing agreement with the Colombian government but will employ all regular efforts to apprehend the fugitive, wanted in Colombia in relation to her alleged role in illegal domestic espionage.
Hurtado recently lost her final appeal of a Panamanian Supreme Court ruling revoking her political asylum status and passport. With no legal standing in the country, Hurtado should have been deported back to Colombia, which has also stripped her of her passport.
But in the weeks since, reports emerged that Hurtado once again evaded authorities, this time fleeing to Costa Rica ahead of the Supreme Court decision.
Costa Rican authorities have lunched a manhunt for the disgraced intelligence chief and say Hurtado did not enter the country legally. So far, though, Hurtado has eluded capture.
It’s unclear how Hurtado escaped, although her original flight to Panama appears to have come as a result of the close personal relationship between then-Panamian President Ricardo Martinelli and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Under Uribe, Hurtado headed the now-defunct DAS intelligence agency, which was shown to have spied on journalists, opposition politicians, human rights workers, and Supreme Court justice looking into ties between paramilitary groups and Colombia’s political and business community.
Hurtado fled rather than face a Supreme Court investigation into her alleged role in the espionage and has not returned to Colombia since.
Earlier this week, her lawyer claims he has not spoken with her in at least two weeks and is not aware of her current location.
Costa Rican authorities say that Pilar has not presented her passport to immigration authorities or submitted a petition for asylum and that they will comply with extradition requests should the fugitive surface.
With the recent dissappearance of former Agriculural Minister Andres Felipe Arias, Huratado is not the only Uribe official currently evading Colombian justice. Arias, recently convicted of misappropriating state subsidies to wealthy landholding interests, also left before his court ruling was handed down, and is now believed to be seeking asylum in Florida.
- No hay ninguna orden para capturar a María del Pilar Hurtado: presidente de Panama (El Espectador)
- Fiscalia radica nueva solicitud de Interpol contra Maria del Pilar Hurtado (Caracol Radio)
- Maria del pilar esta ‘intranquila’ y ‘preocupada’ (Semana)