A heated debate on former President Alvaro Uribe’s alleged ties to paramilitaries and drug cartels even forced former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso to file criminal charges over slander.
The extradited Mancuso, held responsible of more than a hundred homicides and massacres, announced from his prison in the United States that he will sue Uribe for injury and slander.
The legal action comes from what he says are lies that Uribe said during the debate that the former supreme leader of the AUC paramilitary group threatened people into testifying against Uribe.
Senator Ivan Cepeda used recordings of Mancuso’s testimonies in the debate on Wednesday in which the leftist opposition lawmaker attempted to prove the ties between Uribe, the Medellin Cartel and the AUC.
Uribe and his Democratic Center party disqualified the testimonies used the in debate as being lies from convicted criminals. Paradoxically, the testimonies are a direct consequence of the 2005 Justice and Peace law, designed by the Uribe administration in 2005, that allowed paramilitary fighters and commanders reduced sentences in return for, among others, their testimonies.
Mancuso reaffirmed earlier statements that he and other paramilitary leaders met personally with Uribe on his farm.
Uribe’s lawyer, Jaime Granados, said that he also will file charges, but against Mancuso for procedural fraud, false testimony, and slander. Granados said Mancuso’s statements is out of spite because Uribe extradited him to the United States in 2008.
The extradition was not approved by the Supreme Court and condemned by the Prosecutor General. Critics of Uribe have repeatedly said the extradition was meant to prevent the paramilitary leaders from further exposing ties between the now-defunct “terrorist” group and political and economic elites.
Regarding the announcement of legal action that will be taken against Uribe, Granados said “It doesn’t surprise us, it is the price that those have to pay for confronting criminals,” reported Semana news magazine.
Mancuso will have to wait in line to file the lawsuit as the debate spurred Uribe loyalists and critics alike to seek legal support.