More former Uribe aides ask inclusion in transitional justice system

Former Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt and a former chief of staff of ex-President Alvaro Uribe have asked to be be included in the transitional justice system for war crimes.

In a letter in which he explicitly denies his request is a confession of guilt for the 2004 bribery of congress to allow the 2006 reelection of Uribe, Pretelt requested to be released from prison while awaiting a possible second trial.

While the transitional justice tribunal is not meant for corrupt politicians, but for suspected war criminals, Pretelt, former Health Minister Diego Palacio and former presidential chief of staff Alberto Velasquez, claim that their crimes were to secure the continuation of Uribe’s so-called “Democratic Security Policy” and consequently were crimes committed within the context of the armed confict.

Nevertheless, all three former Uribe aides have so far refused to accept responsibility in bribing at least two House Representatives in a 2004 vote on a constitutional amendment that made the way for Uribe’s 2006 reelection.

The two former ministers and the former chief of staff were sentenced to almost seven years of prison and could see their sentences reduced in exchange for telling the truth.

While Uribe’s former aides one by one are accepting the authority of the Special Jurisprudence for Peace, the hard-right former president has only doubled down on his rejection of the transitional justice system, going as far as calling it a “terrorist tribunal.”

Uribe is formally suspected of complicity in a massacre and at least two military operations in which paramilitary forces took part, while a Medellin court has called for investigations into his alleged complicity of the formation of paramilitary groups that ended up killing thousands of civilians.

The former president led the government between 2002 and 2010, during which the military, often in collusion with paramilitary forces, made major territorial advances against the FARC.

However, as the military’s capacity to effectively combat the FARC dropped after 2004, it drastically increased the practice of executing civilians and reporting them as guerrillas killed in combat in what has become one of the biggest series of war crimes in the entire, 52-year armed conflict.

According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the military assassinated more than 4,000 civilians to fraudulently inflate its apparent effectiveness.

In total, the chief prosecutor general’s office, said, some 24,400 state officials would be brought before the transitional justice tribunal, together with 12,500 private companies and businessmen accused of financing paramilitary terror for personal gain.

The transitional justice chief has yet to confirm whether the crimes committed by the former Uribe aides fall under the jurisdiction of the transitional justice court.

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