Colombia’s former President on Monday claiming that a peace deal signed with FARC rebels will “surrender the country” to the disarming guerrillas “with the purpose of putting me in jail.”
According to the historic peace agreement, both Uribe and the FARC will have to submit to a transitional justice system as both the former president and the guerrillas are accused of being responsible for thousands of war crimes.
Under Uribe’s watch, thousands of Colombians were executed by the military and presented as combat kills, while the FARC’s list of alleged war crimes includes thousands of cases of child recruitment, assassinations, forced displacement and kidnapping.
The transitional justice system that took effect with the peace deal will allow a convicted war criminal to evade prison under the condition he fully and without hesitation cooperated with justice. Those who hesitate or refuse to collaborate with justice can be served sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
But according to Uribe, the peace talks were a partisan conspiracy with the intention to “surrender the country to the narcoterrorist group through an impunity agreement with the purpose of putting me in prison,” Uribe said.
The former president is likely to be investigated for his alleged involvement in a 1997 paramilitary massacre in El Aro, a town in Antioquia where Uribe was governor at the time, a case already at the Supreme Court.
Fortunately for him, the peace agreement explicitly leaves in place presidential immunity, meaning that he can only be investigated for the war crimes that happened under his watch by Congress.
A “super court” was to take over investigations from Congress’ notoriously ineffective Accusations Committee, but this part of a 2014 justice reform was later declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.
However, Uribe could face a political death.
The Inspector General’s Office has the authority to investigate his role in the extrajudicial killings and convict him over his political responsibility of Colombia’s biggest human rights scandal in recent history.
The recently suspended Inspector General, an ally of Uribe, has refused to do so.
Additionally, Uribe could be sanctioned for allowing the paramilitary infiltration in Colombia’s political system that flourished after he took office. When taking office, Uribe personally appointed a number of top officials who were later convicted for colluding with paramilitary death squads either to kill union leaders or traffic drugs to the United States.
These paramilitary death squads have been one of the main victimizers in the armed conflict.
But according to the former president, Colombia has not suffered 70 years of political violence and 52 years of armed conflict with the FARC, but claimed “the nation has suffered a systematic attack on democracy by narcoterrorism.”
Paradoxically, Uribe’s brother is in prison awaiting trial for allegedly forming a death squad that killed leftist activists and other “undesirables” while his cousin was imprisoned for ties with the far-right paramilitary group AUC.
Uribe has been trying to discredit the legitimacy of the peace talks since he made them public in August 2014. Meanwhile, his political party is in trouble because it conspired with rogue elements within the military to illegally spy on the talks for electoral purposes.
Over the past few months, the former president has campaigned for a “No” vote in a referendum on the peace deal that will be held on Sunday.
Colombia’s notoriously unreliable pollsters, however, have said Uribe is heading towards a defeat as a comfortable majority of Colombians support peace.
This means that if the “Yes” vote wins, the transitional justice system and the Truth Commission Uribe is so opposed to will knock on his door sooner or later.
If he then refuses collaboration and is found guilty of war crimes he will face a prison sentence up to 20 years. If he does cooperate, he will be allowed the same judicial benefits just as any other convicted war criminal.