Colombia’s Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a witness tampering case against former president Alvaro Uribe will proceed, rejecting an appeal for annulment by his defense.
Uribe, who is accused of attempting to influence witnesses who have testified that he formed a paramilitary death squad when he was governor of the Antioquia province will now face magistrates on a date to be soon defined.
The Court also denied a request that evidence of telephone conversations, which were intercepted by accident in an investigation against Congressman Nilton Cordoba as part of the Toga cartel scandal, be excluded from the investigation.
In what is a long-running saga, the Supreme Court upheld a decision, which it had already made in February deeming that there were no grounds for the annulment of the case against the hard-right former president.
“The magistrates of the special chamber of instruction of the criminal court of the Supreme Court of Justice, unanimously resolved to deny the applications for annulment presented by the defenders of the representative to the chamber Alvaro Hernan Prada and Senator Alvaro Uribe Velez, within the an investigation that is being carried out against them for the crimes of bribery and procedural fraud,” read a February statement on the Court decision.
The court will now proceed with a process that will attempt to ascertain as to whether Uribe and Prada have pressured witnesses held in different prisons, or through third parties to change or exaggerate their testimonies.
It is suspected that witnesses were pressurized into manipulating their versions in exchange for money or “legal favors”, in order to deny testimonies against Uribe or his brother Santiago who is also under investigation for involvement with a death squad.
Uribe’s case has been shrouded in controversy from the start with Colombia’s State Council last week upholding a Supreme Court decision to shield all criminal investigations against the former President from controversial magistrate, former Army Major Cristina Lombana.
The magistrate was taken off the cases in May after press revealed she had failed to tell the court she used to work with Uribe’s defense attorney.
Opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda additionally filed a motion to recuse Lombana because she was Uribe’s subordinate when the far-right politician was president between 2002 and 2010.
Lombana appealed the decision, but the State Council dismissed her arguments, confirming that the Supreme Court decision there were “reasonable doubt about the lack of impartiality.”
The reasons of the magistrate’s colleagues to remove her from the more than 25 criminal investigations against Uribe were “sufficient and valid,” according to the State Council.
Other investigations against Uribe include the former president’s alleged ties to paramilitary organization AUC, two massacres and the assassinations of multiple human rights defenders.
The mounting evidence of Uribe’s alleged involvement in witness tampering, massacres, and the assassination of a human rights advocate is also complicating the situation of current President Ivan Duque, who has consistently defended his political patron.
The “uribistas” claim that their leader is the victim of a political persecution.