Colombia ex-president Uribe to face trial for witness tampering and fraud

Estimated read time 3 min read

Colombia’s ex-president Álvaro Uribe will face trial for witness tampering and fraud, prosecutors have announced, once again casting the spotlight on allegations that the former leader partnered with paramilitary death squads in his war against leftist rebels.

Uribe has long been accused of committing a litany of crimes at the peak of Colombia’s six decades of brutal conflict, but has never been brought to trial, and remains one of the country’s most powerful political figures.

The prosecutor’s office said it decided to call the 71-year-old to trial after reviewing new “physical evidence and material evidence collected and studied by the office”.

The announcement means Uribe will be the first president in Colombian history to be brought to criminal trial.

Among the evidence submitted to the prosecutor’s office are new allegations from a former paramilitary Juan Guillermo Monsalve and the gunman’s partner. Monsalve is in prison on charges of kidnapping, extortion, illegal possession of weapons and conspiracy.

Uribe remains a divisive and powerful political figure in Colombia after overseeing strong military offensives while in office from 2002 to 2010.

The conservative leader is credited by supporters for beating back powerful guerrilla insurgencies such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), which controlled vast swathes of the country at the turn of the century and were encroaching on major cities.

Uribe’s success in restoring order to the Andean nation has made him a heroic figure for the Colombian right, but opponents focus on his disregard for human rights and persistent allegations that he had close links to right wing death squads.

Uribe has denied all accusations made against him – including that he was aware of the so-called false positives scandal in which Colombian soldiers murdered young civilians and dressed them up as leftist guerrilla fighters to meet targets and win bonuses.

The case which will see Uribe testify in court grew out of a long-running feud with Iván Cepeda, a leftwing senator whose investigations helped reveal the deep infiltration of paramilitarism into Colombian politics.

Uribe accused Cepeda of using false witnesses to link him falsely to paramilitary groups in 2012, but in 2018 Colombia’s courts ruled that Cepeda’s investigation was legal and that it was in fact Uribe who may have broken the law for asking his allies to tamper with witnesses.

Uribe testified in a private hearing at Colombia’s supreme court in 2019 and was put under house arrest in 2020, but was released after he resigned from Colombia’s senate, sending the case to ordinary courts.

The date of Uribe’s hearing will be announced in the coming days, the prosecutor’s office said.


You May Also Like

More From Author