Colombia’s Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge put forward by former president Alvaro Uribe against some of its judges, affirming that his trial on witness tampering charges will proceed.
Uribe, whose trial was due to begin on Monday, challenged the impartiality of the three magistrates in the Supreme Court who were conducting the investigation against him.
The court ruled that Uribe’s arguments were unfounded and that the witness tampering trial will continue as originally announced.
Uribe is accused of trying to coerce witnesses who have testified that the former president and his brother formed paramilitary death squads in the 1990s. The former president has denied this, claiming that he is the victim of both a criminal conspiracy and political persecution.
One of Uribe’s lawyers, Victor Mosquera, has requested oversight from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights to secure a fair trial.
“We want international observers to evaluate the process, President Uribe wants to be part of this process, he wants to debate, to demonstrate his innocence,” he added.
The deliberations of the Supreme Court concluded that suggestions by Uribe that “prejudgment” was a factor in the initiation of the inquiry against him were unfounded.
The court has yet to set a new date for Uribe’s first day in court.
The high court suspects that Uribe and a number of his associates have been tampering witnesses who claim that the former president and his brother formed death squads in the 1990s.
His legal troubles, however, are over his alleged leading role in the formation of a death squad after Escobar was killed.
Uribe has denied any ties to the “Bloque Metro” and was recorded talking to one of the founders of the far-right paramilitary group as part of the alleged conspiracy to prevent witnesses from coming forward.
Uribe began his political career in the 1970s and rose to prominence in Medellin and the surrounding Antioquia province during the rise of the Medellin Cartel.
Despite the criminal charges, the former president continues to enjoy support from a minority of conservative and far-right voters; he was reelected to the senate in March with more votes than any other senator.
Nevertheless, pollster CNC said that the majority of Colombians support the Supreme Court decision to try Uribe after decades of accusations he has long been tied to drug traffickers and terrorism.
While by far the most prominent, Uribe is not the only Colombian politician in trouble with the law; more than 60 lawmakers have been sentenced to prison for using death squads to inflate their political or economical power.