A former paramilitary commander, whose testimony was key in the conviction of dozens of Colombian politicians, has claimed he was bribed to discredit the court, reported El Tiempo.
In a letter to the Supreme Court, Libardo Duarte, alias “Bam Bam,” alleges that he was offered $55,000 to claim he had been bribed to testify by Judge Ivan Velasquez.
Velasquez has overseen many of the “parapolitics” trials, which have resulted in dozens of convictions, mainly for allies of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
According to Duarte, a lawyer named Luis Guillermo Quiñonez approached him on behalf of Senator Oscar Suarez Mira, offering him money to retract evidence he had given against the politician and say that Velasquez had bribed him into making them.
Duarte apparently spoke to Quiñonez on the phone in the presence of judicial investigators, who recorded the conversation.
According to El Tiempo, there is no record of the lawyer in the judicial database, however Quiñonez did appear in the records of the Legislative Works Unit when Suarez was in congress.
Ivan Cancino, a lawyer currently representing Suarez, claimed that neither he nor his client were aware of any alleged plot to discredit the court.
Suarez is currently being tried for his paramilitary links, having been arrested in January 2011.
The claims of an attempt to discredit the judiciary come less than two weeks after revelations linking the brother and cousin of Alvaro Uribe to a similar plot to damage the reputation of the court and tarnish the name of Velasquez, who has been the target of a concerted smear campaign.