Imprisoned former paramilitary Libardo Duarte alias “Bam Bam” accused a Colombian governor Thursday of offering him a bribe to change his testimony in a case against a former governor who is already serving time for ties to paramilitaries.
“I don’t know whether Mr. Salvador Arana is responsible for this or not, but I want to denounce Mr. Alejandro Lyon, governor of the [north Colombian] department of Cordoba, who made threats … on behalf of Mr. Salvador because supposedly they had offered me money [to change my testimony] and I told them ‘no,'” Duarte reportedly stated.
Mr. Alejandro Lyon has not yet responded to Duarte’s claims.
Duarte is currently being held in Bogota‘s La Picota prison and he reportedly made the comments in the context of a trial -in which he is a witness- that is currently being conducted against Sucre department’s former governor, Salvador Arana, for allegedly funneling over $31 million in departmental funds to paramilitary forces. Arana was already sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2009 for ties to paramilitaries.
BACKGROUND: Ex governor jailed for 40 years for parapolitics
Duarte also alleged that his refusal to change his testimony has resulted in his appalling maltreatment in prison, declaring that he is “living like a dog” and has “been deprived water for 15 days.”
The former Minister of Justice and the Interior, Fabio Valencia Cossio, has questioned the reliability of Duarte’s claims however, by drawing attention to previous testimony by the former paramilitary that was proven to be inconsistent by the courts.
Colombia’s Supreme Court in 2012 dismissed a case involving Duarte’s claims that Gustavo Petro -the current Mayor of Bogota- and former Senator Piedad Cordoba had allegedly bribed Duarte to influence another paramilitary, Francisco Villalba, to implicate former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in a massacre executed by paramilitaries in 1997. Had Petro been convicted of the crime, it would have thrown doubt over Villalba’s testimony.
Fabio Valencia Cossio himself has been under investigation for his alleged involvement in illegal wire taps of supreme court justices, journalists, political opponents and human rights workers by the defunct intelligence agency DAS and his brother, Guillermo Leon Valencia Cossio -a former Medellin prosecutor- was convicted in 2011 of ties to neo-paramilitary group, Los Urabeños.
BACKGROUND: ‘Justice minister knew of illegal wiretaps’