Colombia’s trial of the century: ‘Uribe’s fixer to be charged over witness tampering’

The fixer of Colombia’s former President, Alvaro Uribe, will be formally charged for allegedly tampering with witnesses in the case against the political patron of President Ivan Duque, local media reported Monday.

Prosecution sources told multiple media that the Prosecutor General’s Office will formally file bribery charges against self-proclaimed “gangstattorney”, Diego Cadena, on February 18.

Uribe is investigated by the Supreme Court for allegedly ordering Cadena to bribe witnesses in response to allegations that the far-right politician and his brother Santiago formed death squads in the 1990s.

Why Colombia’s former president is accused of forming bloodthirsty death squads

According to newspaper El Tiempo, the prosecution even plans to ask a judge to warrant the arrest of Cadena, who is embroiled in four ongoing criminal investigations.

One alleged crime, three investigations

The criminal charges reportedly pending against Cadena would be a game changer in the cases against the Uribes, particularly the former president.

The mafia lawyer allegedly provided false testimonies in the cases of both brothers and, with the threat of a prison sentence, may try to bargain with the prosecution.

Any plea agreement would provide valuable testimonies against the former president, whose lawyers have reportedly already requested that Uribe not be jailed, in the case that the Supreme Court decides to file criminal charges.

The “legal” defense

The  criminal charges reportedly pending against Cadena are for the alleged bribery of former paramilitary fighter “Victor,” who told the Supreme Court he had received bribes from Cadena to testify in defense of Uribe.

The former president’s fixer allegedly stepped up witness tampering practices after Uribe had already been accused of bribing witnesses to file fraudulent charges against opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda in 2014.

Cepeda revealed the testimonies of two former members of the “Bloque Metro”, who accuse Uribe and his brother of having founded the death squad together with neighbors.

The Supreme Court ruled last year that Uribe’s claim that his political rival had used false witnesses was bogus, and opened an investigation against the former president.

In an attempt to defend himself and undermine the claim that he had formed a death squad, Cadena allegedly arranged even more false witnesses.

One of the initial false witnesses was assassinated months after the court opened the investigation, while one of the key witnesses claiming Uribe was a paramilitary leader survived an assassination attempt.

The political defense

Opposition Congresswoman Juanita Goebertus (Green Alliance) said on Tuesday that lawmakers and attorneys are pressuring the prosecutor in the case not to request an arrest warrant.

The Supreme Court is currently in the process of electing a new chief prosecutor from a shortlist of the president, Uribe’s protege.

The House Representative said on Twitter that “the choice of the future Prosecutor General would be influencing the decision.”

Presidents have historically picked candidate prosecutors general that are political allies and less likely to allow prosecutors to proceed in criminal investigations that could hurt their political interests.

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