Congress must prioritize investigating Uribe’s ‘paramilitary links’: Lawmaker

Ivan Cepeda (Photo: Notimundo)

Colombia’s Congress should ratify and prioritize the investigation against former President Alvaro Uribe over his support of his then-head of security, who was subsequently convicted of ties with paramilitary forces in 2012.

Congressman Ivan Cepeda, a political enemy of the former president, said Monday he will “use all his power as a congressman” to demand the investigation be given priority. Citing “the gravity of the facts,” The House Representative urged the Accusations Commission, a Congress body in charge of investigating (former) presidents accused of committing crimes during their administration, to act “as soon as possible and with a sense of urgency to determine the political responsibility” of Uribe in the case.

The investigation concerns the ex-president’s support of General Mauricio Santoyo, who was the chief of security for Uribe’s 2002 election campaign and first term as well as the former commander of an elite hostage-rescue force in Medellin when the ex-president was governor there, and who is now in jail in the US after pleading guilty to collaborating with paramilitary forces while serving public functions.

MORE: Santoyo ‘ordered forced disappearance of human rights workers’

According to Cepeda, who made the initial complaint in August 2012, Santoyo was part of a “criminal structure” of officials and sub officials operating in the police force of Antioquia in the 1990s and which later moved to the presidential palace when Uribe was elected president in 2002.

MORE: Uribe brought criminal apparatus to presidential palace: Lawmaker

“When Colombia’s Inspector General dismissed him [Santoyo] from his role, and placed a five year block on his taking of any public function, Uribe publicly supported him, including when the State Council suspended the sanction” he said, emphasizing the urgency of the need for investigation of the ex head of state “for having maintained Santoyo as his chief of security while he was still under disciplinary and penal investigation for presumed participation in illegal interceptions.”

Television network Caracol reported in August 2012 that the case against Santoyo was only the “tip of the iceberg” and that the U.S. is investigating dozens of former Colombian officials for their ties to the paramilitary group, the AUC, which controlled most of Colombia’s drug trade until its demobilization in 2006 and has been on the U.S. terrorist groups list since 2001.

MORE: Colombian ex-generals named as Santoyo collaborators: Caracol

Cepeda has long accused Uribe of having been an ally of the AUC, something that the former president always strongly denied. In return, Uribe has accused his political foe of being an ally of leftist rebel group FARC. Both the now-defunct AUC and the FARC are determined terrorist organizations by noth the US and the EU.


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