U.S. authorities are set to interrogate of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s security chief over alleged paramilitary ties, Colombian media reported Wednesday.
Retired police general Mauricio Santoyo Velasco handed himself over to U.S. authorities in the state of Virginia on Tuesday morning amid accusations of collaboration with the the AUC and Medellin-based crime syndicate Oficina de Envigado between 2000 and 2008.
Santoyo was Uribe’s security chief between 2002 and 2006 after which he became a military attache in Italy.
After landing on U.S. soil the retired general was taken to a detention center where he will remain until Thursday, before appearing at the Eastern District Court of Virginia to answer to the allegations made against him.
Santoyo will also be assigned a permanent place of detention while the trial proceeds, after being denied bail because of the gravity of the accusations made against him.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, Santoyo’s lawyer Richard Diaz said that the retired general was thinking about pleading innocent in front of the judge.
On Tuesday night, Diaz gave power of attorney to John Kenneth Zwerling who will represent him in the state of Virginia, as the Colombian lawyer is not licensed to practise in that area.
El Espectador wrote that sources close to Santoyo report that the ex-police chief decided to cooperate because he wanted to enter into a collaborative process and negotiations with the U.S., as according to his lawyer an international warrant for his arrest was inevitable.
Apparently Santoyo said that the reason for his cooperation was that he wants to defend his dignity and his name in Colombia, El Espectador reported.
Since 2011 Santoyo has been interrogated by the DEA at least three times.
During these meetings, of which two took place in Washington and Aruba, he was interrogated about his activities as a police officer in Medellin as well as about his personal life.