Colombia court orders penalties for president, cites national park

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FILE PHOTO: Colombian President Ivan Duque arrives to cast his vote at a polling station during the first round of the presidential election in Bogota

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A court in Colombia has ordered President Ivan Duque to be fined and placed under house arrest for five days, it said on Saturday, citing the Andean country's leader failure to comply with a previous ruling that demanded he protect a national park.

Experts say the order by the court in Ibague, the capital city of Colombia's Tolima province, has no chance of being carried out. Colombia's president can only be accused and investigated by a special legislative commission, and can only be tried by the country's congress.

Duque was found to be in contempt of court for failing to enact measures to protect the Los Nevados national park as ordered by Colombia's Supreme Court in 2020, the superior court of Ibague said in a statement explaining its ruling.

The court also imposed a fine on the president of roughly $4,000 and ordered that he create a special unit of police or military members to help carry out conservation work at the park.

The president insisted his government has protected Colombia's natural parks and complied with the court order to conserve the Los Nevados national park.

"We've seen an inexplicable initial ruling," Duque said in a video shared on social media, calling the court decision unconstitutional and insisting that the Supreme Court's order had already been carried out.

Evidence demonstrating Duque's compliance with the Supreme Court's order was sent to the court in Ibague but was ignored, Justice Minister Wilson Ruiz said in a video statement sent to journalists.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Oliver Griffin; Editing by David Gregorio)

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