A former Colombian senator and ally of a presidential primary candidate who was arrested for his alleged ties to paramilitary groups faces similar charges as both met with paramilitaries in the same meeting, reported newspaper El Tiempo.
In a scandal referred to as parapolitics, Luis Alfredo Ramos, former Congress president and governor of Antioquia, was arrested for several meetings with paramilitary leaders that took place in his home department between late 2004 and early 2005.
The former governor insists that the meetings were to discuss the Justice and Peace law, legislation that oversaw the demobilization of paramilitary group AUC between 2003 and 2006. The court dismissed such claims as fruitless.
In the meeting between 22 conservative politicians from the Antioquia department and leaders of the paramilitary umbrella organization AUC was also former Senator Francisco Zapata, the court established in the case against a third former senator who was sentenced for using his relationship with the AUC to seek political gain.
According to testimonies by former AUC commanders, both Zapata and Ramos received money to fund their 2002 political campaigns.
The two prominent politicians, part of a group of “untouchables” according to journalist and former Medellin Mayor Alonso Salazar, are the latest of dozen of former Congressmen and half a dozen former governors in trouble with the law over their conspiracies with paramilitary death squads belonging to the paramilitaries.
The AUC operated from 1997 until 2006, and within this period formed a symbiotic relationship with many figures in the Colombian government and security forces. The relationship became public in 2006 and became known as “parapolitics,” which resulted in the conviction of dozens of lawmakers and hundreds of other public officials.
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