Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe used conspiracy theories to defend himself against a Supreme Court fraud and bribery investigation, but failed.
According to the Supreme Court, whose 1,500-page document detailing the criminal charges was leaked, the president allegedly sought to bribe witnesses to discredit legitimate criminal investigations.
Uribe even accused former Supreme Court Magistrate Jose Luis Barcelo, who opened the investigation, of conspiring against him based on a claim by extradited drug trafficker “El Tuso,” which “lacks evidence,” according to the court.
According to the criminal charges, evidence indicates “what already appears as a modus operandi of the suspect and [fixer Diego] Cadena, which consists of using a certain fact or scenario from which false circumstances are invented or masked.”
Both the former and Cadena were placed under house arrest last week.
The Tasmania model
Uribe used a similar strategy to the one Ivan Velasquez used in 2007 to frustrate an investigation of a former Supreme Court magistrate, but failed.
In a letter to the president, former paramilitary “Tasmania” accused Velasquez of offering judicial benefits if the paramilitary agreed to “blemish” Uribe.
Tasmania retracted his statement, after which it became evident that the letter had been written by former intelligence executive Martha Leal and given to the the attorney of Uribe’s cousin Mario, who was investigated at the time.
The demobilized paramilitary survived an assassination attempt two months after the court opened the investigation against Uribe.
Another false witness, demobilized paramilitary Carlos Enrique Areiza, was assassinated less than a week before the reported attack on Tasmania.
According to the court, the Tasmania incident was a “serious precedent” exposing much of Uribe’s alleged “modus operandi.”
The alleged conspiracy theories
Apart from the alleged conspiracy theory involving the former Supreme Court magistrate, El Tuso also claimed he had been bribed by a committee of three senators and by former Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre who were all investigating the extradited drug traffickers’ ties to politicians.
According to the Supreme Court, evidence indicates that Cadena “fixed” El Tuso’s testimony, but failed to contribute any supporting evidence.
Both Uribe and his former fixer denied having sought out the extradited narco, but claimed they were approached. Unlike in the cases of other witnesses, the court said it had no evidence El Tuso was bribed.
The alleged modus operandi
Uribe allegedly plotted the defense strategy to discredit several witnesses and investigations after which his attorneys, Jaime Granados and Jaime Lombana, turned to Cadena to support the former president’s conspiracy theories.
Uribe’s attorneys would not get involved in Cadena’s alleged bribery practices. They would only use the testimonies the fixer had gathered at the instruction of the former president, evidence indicates.
Uribe additionally would seek the help of others, like his senatorial aides, to coordinate matters and encounters with potential fake witnesses, a claim denied by the former president’s defense.
Lastly, nobody in the defense team would verify the claims of the witnesses, leaving the court with nothing but baseless accusations.
How everything fell apart
To the indignation of Uribe’s defense lawyers, the court refused to accept the testimonies of criminal conduct against others without any evidence.
Furthermore, one witness surrendered evidence he received bribes while another surrendered evidence he was offered judicial benefits.
This evidence added to evidence that led the court to open an investigation against Uribe in 2018 and place the former president under house arrest last week.