Uribe denies ‘influence peddling’ at national drugs enforcement agency

Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has denied influencing the national drug agency to give land seized from traffickers to a church in Cali.

At the disciplinary hearing of Senator Roy Barreras, who is being investigated over allegations that land seized from drug traffickers was improperly given to an evangelical church, Uribe denied direct involvement.

The former head of state said he had not mediated the transaction, which took place while he was in office, but had asked Senator Barreras to do so.

Barreras’ defense attorney claimed that there were no irregularities over the transfer of the property, and that the decision was made by a community council in “light of the whole country.”

The senator is one of several politicians suspected of influence peddling within Colombia’s national drug enforcement agency, DNE. It’s alleged they tried to convince DNE directors to hand over properties and assets seized from drug traffickers to their own friends and families.

Widespread allegations of corruption at the DNE led the government to take it over last year. Last April President Juan Manuel Santos announced it would be dismantled, but this has yet to take place.

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