The former president of Colombia’s Supreme Court said Thursday he became victim of “political persecution” by the “regime of [former President] Alvaro Uribe” after court rulings opposed the interests of the former head of state.
Former Supreme Court President Cesar Julio Valencia made the accusations during the trial against the former president, who is investigated by a congressional committee over his alleged role in the illegal wiretapping of supreme court magistrates, journalists, human rights organizations and opposition politicians.
Valencia told the House Representatives of the committee that the “siege” carried out by the Uribe administration changed his personal life from being “reserved and calm” to being subjected to the presence of numerous bodyguards and protection measures by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.
According to the magistrate, his life changed after Uribe accused the Supreme Court of being “ideologically biased,” an “obstacle to peace” and the “harmonic arm of armed terrorism.” Valencia said Uribe’s “unmannerly terms” were “violent.”
The former president’s criticism on court rulings that went against government policies and the prosecution of Uribe-loyal congressmen with alleged ties to paramilitary organization AUC changed the judge’s life, Valencia said.
“They intercepted my telephones, those of my mother — an old lady who has now passed, and that of my child,” the former judge said.
Additionally, “I was the victim of verbal attacks and assaults on the street only for being accused by former President Uribe,” the judge told the committee.
According to the Valencia, the illegal wiretapping carried out by the presidential intelligence agency DAS was directed at people “only for thinking differently.”
“It is necessary to investigate the responsibility of this ferocious hunt that was managed from the presidential palace, affecting democracy and its institutions,” the magistrate said.
Following a break that lasted several months, a committee of the House of Representatives’ Accusations Commission restarted hearings on Uribe’s alleged responsibility for the illegal wiretapping. The investigation began two years ago, but has only now begun hearing of victims of the illegal wiretapping practices.
Apart from the former Supreme Court president, the committee will hear testimonies by former Senator Piedad Cordoba, Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro and journalist Hollman Morris who were also illegally wiretapped.
Uribe, who briefly appeared before the commission last year, has vehemently denied knowing about the illegal wiretapping. The former President’s former chief of staff is in jail awaiting trial over the scandal while his former intelligence chief fled the country before charges were filed.