A Colombian court issued a temporary injunction Tuesday blocking enforcement of a decision by the Inspector General's Office to oust capital Mayor Gustavo Petro for alleged mismanagement.
Judge Jose Maria Armenta of the Administrative Tribunal for Cundinamarca province concluded that the IG's office violated Petro's fundamental rights, the mayor's attorneys said.
"Justice and multitudes have won the battle over arbitrary power," Petro said on learning of the injunction.
Supporters of the leftist mayor have mounted protests in Bogota since Dec. 9, when the IG's office announced its decision to oust Petro and bar the 53-year-old leftist from holding any public post for 15 years.
The injunction comes a day after the IG's office rejected Petro's appeal, putting the ball in the court of President Juan Manuel Santos, who has the final say on whether the order will be enforced.
Judge Armenta urged Santos to delay his decision until after the Administrative Tribunal issues its final ruling.
The IG's office has the option to appeal Armenta's injunction before the Council of State, Colombia's highest administrative court.
Petro, a one-time guerrilla and former senator, asked the IG office to review its decision while simultaneously seeking to have the matter removed from Inspector Alejandro Ordoñez's jurisdiction, alleging that the prominent rightist was biased against him.
The IG's office flatly rejected Petro's request to have his appeal reviewed by a special prosecutor not subject to Ordoñez.
Trash piled up in Bogota for several days in December 2012 after Petro decided to shift responsibility for waste management from four private firms to the municipal water company.
The mayor harmed "the principle of freedom of enterprise" and put at risk "the environment and human health of the residents of Bogota," Ordoñez said in announcing his ruling.
The action of the IG's office has been roundly criticized in Colombia and abroad, with even Petro's political foes accusing Ordoñez of having gone too far.
Petro has publicly appealed to Santos to delay a decision on his ouster at least long enough to allow the mayor to face Bogota voters in a recall referendum set for March 2.
The push to recall Petro is led by Miguel Gomez Martinez, a member of Santos' conservative party who represents a Bogota district in the Colombian Congress. EFE