Colombia’s Supreme Court confirmed on Friday that it is investigating former President Alvaro Uribe’s alleged involvement in three massacres and a homicide.
In a tweet, the high court said that the murder of human rights defender Jesus Maria Valle, and the massacres of El Aro, San Roque and La Granja were declared crimes against humanity.
The decision was made “in the course of the preliminary investigation” against Uribe, whose family is facing multiple probes over paramilitary groups formed near the family’s estates in the 1990s.
En el curso de la indagación previa 45110 contra el senador Álvaro Uribe, Sala Penal de @CorteSupremaJ declaró de lesa humanidad los delitos asociados a las masacres de El Aro, San Roque, La Granja y el homicidio del defensor de DDHH Jesús María Valle.
— Corte Suprema de Jus (@CorteSupremaJ) May 31, 2018
The court is investigating the powerful former president on charges of murder, conspiracy and witness tampering.
According to Juan Guillermo Monsalve, the son of the caretaker of Uribe’s estate in San Roque, the former president and his brother Santiago were behind the massacre in the town.
Uribe at the time was governor of Antioquia, the province where all three massacres took place.
The Bloque Metro paramilitary group murdered six people in San Roque in 1996 allegedly while searching the area for cattle that had been stolen from the Uribe ranch by ELN guerrillas.
The massacre of La Granja, a hamlet in the Ituango municipality, was carried out later that year by the ACCU paramilitary group that was led by legendary warlord Carlos Castaño.
The massacre of El Aro was carried out by ACCU successor AUC and the National Army in 1997.
The dead witnesses
The court is also investigating the 1998 murder of Valle, one of the leading human rights defenders in Antioquia when Uribe was governor.
This was later confirmed by paramilitary fighter Francisco Villalba, who was murdered in 2008.
The few remaining witnesses against Uribe have been receiving extreme security measures since February, reportedly after surviving multiple assassination attempts.
Uribe has categorically denied his ties to paramilitary groups, and his involvement in the massacres and attempts to silence witnesses.