A captured paramilitary leader has refused to testify in the preliminary investigation against Colombia’s housing minister who has been accused of ties to the warlord, reported local media Wednesday.
The former commander of the Self Defense Forces of Casares paramilitary block, Hector German Buitrago, alias “Martin Llanos,” has refused to testify against Housing Minister German Vargas Lleras on the basis that he does not presently have adequate legal representation.
Llanos, often referred to as Colombia’s “last paramilitary warlord,” is suspected of providing financial, political and electoral support to Vargas Lleras in his 2002 run for senate.
This is the fourth time the testimony of Llanos has been suspended in the preliminary process. The court’s investigation comes at the request of Vargas Lleras himself, who has been eager to clear his name since the accusations emerged in mid-2012.
Colombia’s Supreme Court is currently deciding whether there is sufficient evidence to establish a formal open investigation into the accusations made against Vargas Lleras.
For his part, the housing minister has repeatedly asserted his innocence. In early July he accused Santiago Uribe, the brother of former president Alvaro Uribe, of being part of a conspiracy plot to fabricate evidence against him.
Vargas Lleras ran for the presidency in 2010 as a candidate for the “Cambio Radical” party, however bowed out in the first round as he received only 10% of the votes.
The housing minister joins the hundreds of Colombian politicians investigated for ties to paramilitary groups.