Former paramilitary leader Diego Fernando Murillo, alias ‘Don Berna‘, on Sunday confirmed that the now defunct AUC paramilitary group donated $1 million to the 2002 election campaign of ex-President Alvaro Uribe, reported Colombian media outlet Noticias Uno.
Noticias Uno reported that longtime AUC leader ‘Don Berna’ made concrete accusations to Colombian Supreme Court officials against various current and former political figures whom he claims to have supported financially.
Implicated in the most recent statement is ex-President Alvaro Uribe, who Murillo and other former paramilitary leaders have accused of orchestrating paramilitary operations during his time as governor of the Antioquia department and president of the republic.
“Our total support of and collaboration with the presidential elections of Dr. Alvaro Uribe is undeniable,” Murillo is reported having told a Supreme Court official.
Uribe is currently under congressional investigation for illegally wiretapping judges and opposition political leaders, and a court in the Antioquia department recently called for a similar investigation into his involvement with Colombia’s paramilitary organizations.
Various members of Uribe’s inner political circle are already under investigation, including several presidential candidates from his Democratic Center political party — one of whom, former Antioquia governor Luis Alfredo Ramos, has already been arrested — members of his presidential staff and his brother, Santiago.
During his time as president, Uribe made significant strides in combatting the FARC rebel group, which reached the height of its power just before Uribe took office, launching a terrorist-like offensive against police and army units throughout the country.
Uribe’s tactics have been called into question in recent years, however, as both military officials and the paramilitary groups they collaborated with have been tied to tens of thousands of rapes, murders, forced displacements and other human rights violations that occurred as part of the government’s crackdown against the FARC and other rebel groups.
In his most recent statement, ‘Don Berna’ reportedly explains that Uribe provided the AUC with funding, operational support, and legal impunity, and that accordingly, the AUC “supported [Uribe’s election campaigns] in their totality”, with funding and voter coercion.
While the Supreme Court is handling the case of ‘Don Berna’, currently imprisoned in Miami after being extradited to the United States in 2008, only Congress has the authority to investigate a former head of state.
Despite growing body of evidence against him, Uribe is not under any formal investigations for alleged paramilitary activity, which he has repeatedly denied. Indeed, amid an ongoing congressional investigation into an illegal wiretapping scandal during his presidency, Uribe is running for a seat in the Colombian Congress in the 2014 elections.