A Colombian senator surrendered to justice and was subsequently jailed Saturday over charges she sought political benefits through alliances with paramilitary death squads.
U Party Senator Piedad Zuccardi reportedly arrived at the main office of Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office at 10AM Saturday presumably after returning from Costa Rica where the lawmaker was at the time a judge warranted her arrest for her alleged ties to a death squad active in the northern Bolivar department.
According to Bogota newspaper El Tiempo, Zuccardi left Colombia only days before the Supreme Court planned to rule on the requested arrest warrant. The senator went to Costa Rica where former Senator Mario Uribe, cousin of former President Alvaro Uribe and currently in jail for “parapolitics,” unsuccessfully sought asylum.
Following Costa Rica, the then-fugitive senator went to Panama which in 2010 granted political asylum to a former director of Colombia’s now-defunct intelligence agency DAS while the former intelligence executive was investigated for her role in the illegal wiretapping of Supreme Court justices, congressmen and presumed critics of Uribe, El Tiempo reported.
Zuccardi was summoned to appear before the Supreme Court to refute allegations made by the former head of the AUC, Salvatore Manusco, that she requested his assistance in her pursuit of a congressional seat.
Manusco also alleged that Zuccardi contacted two former commanders of the “Bloque Heroes Montes de Maria” wing of the AUC, Edwar Cobos Tellez (alias “Diego Vecino”) and ‘Ernesto Baez’, to ensure Alfonso Lopez Cossio’s campaign for the governorship of the northern department of Bolivar was successful.
Another former paramilitary commander, Manuel Antonio Castellanos, alias “El Chino”, also alleged that Zuccardi and her husband, Juan Garcia Romero, met with Tellez in 2002 on a finca outside of Cartagena, to form an alliance
Romero’s brother, former senator Alvaro Garcia, was sentenced in 2010 to serve 40 years in prison for his ties to paramilitary organizations.
The AUC operated from 1997 until 2006, and within this period formed a symbiotic relationship with many figures in the Colombian government and security forces. The relationship became public in 2006 and became known as “parapolitics,” which resulted in the conviction of dozens of lawmakers and hundreds of other public officials.
FACT SHEET: Parapolitics scandal
- Piedad Zuccardi se entregó y está recluida en el búnker de la Fiscalía (El Tiempo)
- Captura a Zuccardi por nexos con Auc (Colprensa)
- Se entregó la senadora Piedad Zuccardi para responder por parapolítica (Caracol Radio)