Colombia’s top human rights official back to court over alleged paramilitary ties

Presidential human rights adviser Nancy Patricia Gutierrez (Image: Twitter)

The human rights adviser of Colombia’s President Ivan Duque is again facing charges she colluded with paramilitary death squads, charges that were first dropped in 2014.

Bogota‘s transitional justice court asked the Supreme Court to revise its decision to absolve former Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez of charges she was elected to the senate in 2002 with paramilitary support.

Court disputes perjury conviction

In the same ruling, the court rejected a prosecution request to strip a former paramilitary of judicial benefits on claims he was convicted for perjury in 2017.

The Justice and Peace tribunal, however, disputed the “unusual” plea deal and conviction of former policeman and member of paramilitary organization AUC Luis Alberto Medina, a.k.a. “Cristo Malo.”

In its 2014 ruling, the Supreme Court asked to investigate Cristo Malo and three other witnesses on perjury charges, who claimed Gutierrez received electoral support from the AUC’s “Capital Bloc”.

With the exception of the paramilitary who accepted the plea bargain, none of the other witnesses against Gutierrez have been convicted for perjury.

After the transitional justice court also dismissed the former paramilitary’s conviction, Gutierrez found herself again accused of “parapolitics.”

Gutierrez reiterated in a press release that she had been absolved of the criminal charges and that “Cristo Malo” had been convicted for perjury.

The witnesses against Gutierrez

  • Extradited Medellin crime boss “Don Berna
  • Former congresswoman Rocio Arias
  • Former mid-level AUC commander Luis Alberto Medina, a.k.a. “Cristo Malo”
  • Former paramilitary fighter Elkin de Jesus Restrepo
  • Former paramilitary fighter Juan de Jesus Lagares
  • Former paramilitary fighter Humberto Mendoza

Gutierrez’ alleged paramilitary ties

According to Cristo Malo and two other demobilized paramilitary fighters, mid-level AUC commander “Elias” ordered them to travel to the central Cundinamarca province to coordinate paramilitary support for Gutierrez’s political ambitions in 2001.

The demobilized paramilitaries testified in 2008 that the AUC’s former commander in Cundinamarca, “El Pajaro,” was coordinating the allegedly fraudulent election of Gutierrez with party bosses and social leaders.

This was confirmed by extradited Medellin crime boss “Don Berna,” who confirmed that “El Pajaro supported” Duque’s top human rights official in the 2002 elections.

Former Congresswoman Rocio Arias, a former key ally of the AUC, additionally claimed that “Jota,” a former commander of the Medellin-based “Bloque Metro,” told her that El Pajaro and “El Aguila” also supported the 2006 election of Gutierrez.

The Supreme Court dropped the charges in 2014, however, claiming the accusations could not be supported with evidence and ordered to investigate if the accusations may have been false.

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