The Colombian Prosecutor General’s office has issued an arrest warrant for the key witness in the case against the brother of Colombian ex-president Alvaro Uribe. Santiago Uribe allegedly had links with a paramilitary death squad in the early 1990s.
The court investigating Santiago Uribe issued the warrant on Wednesday after retired police major Juan Carlos Meneses failed to appear in court for the second time. He is believed to be in hiding in Argentina, according to weekly newspaper Semana.
Five years ago, Meneses accused Uribe of creating the paramilitary group “The 12 Apostles,” who operated almost 20 years ago in the area of Yarumal, northern Antioquia, where Finca Carolina, the Uribe family ranch, is located. The accusation, made before Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, was published in prestigious newspapers like The Washington Post.
In his testimony, he said that in 1993 departing police captain Pedro Benavides told him that he had to support a group carrying out social cleansing in the area.
“The group has a boss called Santiago Uribe,” Benavides allegedly said to him. “He is the brother of Senator Alvaro Uribe. He is a rancher in the region that has the farm near to Yarumal, Finca Carolina. He is the boss of the paramilitary group.”
Human Rights website Verdad Abierta reports that Meneses made an agreement with Santiago Uribe to cover up and even aid the paramilitary group’s crimes.
Uribe was also allegedly involved in the murder of Camilo Barrientos Duran on February 25, 1994, at Finca Carolina.
In 2010, Benavides claimed that Colombian drug trafficking capos “Los Comba” offered Meneses $250,000 to implicate Uribe, which Meneses continues to deny.