On the third day of Colombia’s trial of the century, the Supreme Court will be hearing two of former president Alvaro Uribe’s fixers and the prison mate of a key witness accusing the far-right politician of forming a death squad.
Additionally, the court will hear a former member of the Cacique Pipinta paramilitary group whose former commander, “Alberto Guerrero,” has confirmed Uribe formed the Bloque Metro paramilitary group when he was governor of his home Antioquia province in the 1990s.
Why Colombia’s former president is accused of forming bloodthirsty death squads
Witness #6 | “Jopra”
Jopra entered the AUC in 1999 and at one point became Guerrero’s personal security chief. He was arrested in 2007 and is currently serving a prison sentence for at least two homicides.
The former paramilitary is one of multiple former Cacique Pipinta Front members who have been called to testify by Uribe’s defense in an apparent attempt to discredit Guerrero’s claim he was a member of the Bloque Metro.
Guerrero’s claim is not relevant in relation to the fraud and bribery charges, but possibly an attempt to prevent that his testimony on October 2 adds weight to the case related to Uribe’s alleged role in the formation of the paramilitary group.
According to the victim of Uribe’s alleged witness manipulation practices, opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda, Uribe stepped up his bribery practices after failing to get the charges dropped, and added Jopra to his “false witness cartel” at the last minute.
So far, this strategy has been a disaster. The very first witness called by Uribe’s defense, “Victor,” flipped and testified he had been bribed by Uribe’s fixer, Javier Cadena, confirming the criminal charges instead of supporting Uribe’s claim he is the victim of a conspiracy.
‘Witness who was supposed to defend Uribe confirms bribery charge’
Witness #7 | Enrique Pardo
Enrique Pardo is a prison mate of Juan Guillermo Monsalve, the son of the former caretaker of Uribe family’s Guacharacas estate who has confirmed he was also a member of the Bloque Metro. Monsalvo has survived at least one assassination attempt.
Pardo is related to Maria Mercedes Williamson, the sister-in-law of one of Uribe’s defense attorneys, Jaime Lombana. Pardo allegedly helped Lombana and Cadena enter the prison where he and Monsalve were held a week after the Supreme Court ordered to investigate Uribe in February 2018.
In a video recorded by Monsalve, Pardo and Cadena are heard pressuring the witness to retract his claim that the Uribe brothers formed the Bloque Metro and falsely accuse Cepeda of conspiracy instead.
How the fuck is Cepeda going to resolve anything for you, Juan? What the fuck? Other than call the director of [prison authority] INPEC to transfer you as has happened. Contrarily, the other sir will absolutely help you… The other sir is going to get lawyers, and will get important people involved, prosecutors, the whole thing… If he says he will help you, I guarantee he will help you… They will get you benefits to get you out of here faster… Mr. Uribe will be behind you and will be helping you.
Enrique Pardo via Semana
Witness #8 | Diego Cadena
Diego Cadena got his law certificate in 2010. He became a mafia lawyer who represented renowned narcos like “Don Diego” and “Diego Rastrojo” before becoming Uribe’s fixer.
His role in the case is key and became public after wiretap and video recordings confirmed claims he was Uribe’s “main man” in the former president’s alleged conspiracy against Cepeda.
Cadena couldn’t possibly be in more trouble. Before the Uribe case began on Tuesday, the lawyer was already under investigation for bribery, influence peddling, obstruction of justice and impersonating an officer.
When the very first witness in the Uribe case reportedly flipped and confirmed under oath that Cadena had bribed him, Uribe’s entire claim he is the victim of a conspiracy fell to pieces. Instead, the reported testimony only put the pressure on the former president’s fixer.
According to newspaper El Espectador, court sources have said that Cadena always “reported back” to Uribe about his alleged attempts to manipulate witnesses like Monsalve and Victor while he was being wiretapped.
All evidence indicates Cadena is guilty of bribery and influence peddling, and he may say goodbye to his high-profile, but short career in law.
The attorney has defended his innocence in public and has aggressively threatened to sue journalists who reported on his alleged criminal activity. Under oath, however, Cadena may want to to invoke his right to remain silent to avoid incriminating himself or risk additional perjury charges.
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Witness #9 | Jaime Lombana
Jaime Lombana is one of Uribe’s attorney’s, second only to Uribe’s main defense attorney, Jaime Granados.
The prosecution dropped witness tampering charges against Lombana in June, a month before the Supreme Court having called him to testify over his evident involvement in an attempt by Cadena and Pardo to sway Monsalve.
While Cadena was telling the key witness against the former president that he, Uribe and Lombana had talked on February 21 last year about seeking judicial benefits for Monsalve, Lombana was in the back of the room.
The two attorneys possibly were able to enter the key witness’ prison because Lombana’s sister-in-law, Maria Mercedes Williamson, is also related to Pardo. She too was present when Cadena and Pardo were claiming Uribe would help Monsalve get out of prison if only he would stop insisting Uribe found the death squad that left 4,000 victims in the Antioquia province.