Colombia: high court accuses Uribe of obstruction in paramilitary case

In several radio interviews Oct. 9, Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe charged the country’s Supreme Court offered benefits including a reduced sentence to imprisoned paramilitary commander José Moncada in exchange for testifying that the president ordered the killing of another incarcerated paramilitary boss, Alcides de Jesús Durango, in 2003. Uribe released a letter he received from Moncada in which he claimed he was bribed into making the charge. Uribe said he called a Supreme Court justice to discuss the matter and asked his prosecutor general to investigate. Supreme Court president Cesar Valencia dismissed Moncada’s accusation and said Uribe was “obstructing the court’s investigative work” and trying to “delegitimize” the institution.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement the president should respect judicial independence and stop calling judges who are investigating his government. “Uribe has a disturbing record of making aggressive statements against the courts and media outlets that are investigating his administration and political cronies,” it said.

In August the Supreme Court accused Uribe of “undue and unacceptable interference” after the president said the body was wrecking the peace process by forbidding former paramilitaries to run for public office.

Uribe’s government is facing a scandal in which 14 members of Congress, most from his coalition, are jailed and awaiting trial for suspected links to the paramilitary network. Another 22 current or former members of Congress, including Uribe’s cousin and 30-year political ally Mario Uribe, are under investigation in the “para-politics” scandal. (NYT, Oct. 10; Reuters, Oct. 9)

See our last posts on Colombia.

  1. Colombia: ex-Justice Minister sentenced for ordering murder
    An ex-Minister of Justice was sentenced to 24 years in prison Oct. 11 as intellectual author of the 1989 assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, who had pledged a crackdown on the cocaine cartels. Alberto Santofimio Botero was accused of ordering sicarios (hired assassins) to kill Galán on behalf of Medellin Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar. (AP, Oct. 11)