Andrés Felipe Arias Leiva and the Agro Ingreso Seguro Scandal

Andrés Felipe Arias Leiva is a Colombian economist and former minister for Agriculture and Rural Development. The Agro Ingreso Seguro was a programme launched by the Colombian government which sought subsidies for Colombian farmers.

After the Colombian magazine Cambio, accused the Ministry of Agriculture of having misallocated subsidies, Arias was held in prison for almost two years. During this time, there was no trial and his right to legal representation was limited.

Arias was eventually acquitted of all charges and released. It was later proved that there had been no legal basis for his imprisonment in the first place.

Timeline of events

2005 to 2009 - Arias serves as the 8th Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Colombia

2006: The Agro Ingreso Seguro programme is launched by the Colombian government which seeks subsidies for Colombian farmers. The programme was designed and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture under the chairmanship of Arias

October 2009: The national magazine Cambio accuses the Ministry of Agriculture of having misallocated agricultural subsidies to wealthy families in the Caribbean coastal region

12 October 2009: The Public Attorney’s Office says it has found irregularities in the implementation of the programme relating to recruitment without appropriate studies, irregularities in the methods of recruitment, corruption and improper benefits to some landowner families. The Public Attorney’s Office finds Arias guilty of peculation and disqualifies him from holding a position in public service for a period of sixteen years

2010: Arias is a candidate for the Conservative Party nomination in the Colombian presidential elections. However, by then Arias is already embroiled in the Agro Ingreso Seguro Scandal so political progress is impossible

26 July 2011: Magistrate Orlando Fierro Perdomo orders the arrest and preventive detention of Arias for obstruction of justice, as Arias is accused of meeting with other officials who are being investigated in the case, and for trying to coordinate their stance and testimony; for this he is sent to Cantón Norte military prison pending the culmination of the trial

July 2011 - June 2013: Arias remains under preventive detention. During the two years that Arias spends in jail no culmination of the trial takes place and his right to defense is limited

June 14, 2013: After Arias is held for almost two years in Cantón Norte, the High Court of Bogota approves his release. The legal document relating to the court decision can be viewed here. Later it is proved that there was no legal basis for the preventive detention of Arias.