The trial of Colombian former Senate president Mario Uribe Escobar is due to begin Tuesday, following allegations that the official used paramilitary help in his election campaign.
Uribe, who is the cousin of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, was arrested in February after former paramilitary fighters Jairo Castillo Peralta, alias “Pitirri,” and Salvatore Mancuso accused him of making political deals in order to be elected to the Senate in 2002, and of using his relationship with the AUC to buy cheap land in the Cordoba department.
The ex-official will appear before the Criminal Appeals Court, where he will plead innocent to charges of parapolitical activity.
Uribe was imprisoned in 2008, also on charges of links with paramilitaries. He sought political asylum in Costa Rica after the Prosecutor General’s Office ordered his arrest, but it was denied. In August, 2008, the then-deputy prosecutor general, Guillermo Mendoza Diago, released Mario Uribe on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to continue detaining him.
Mario Uribe was head of the Colombia Democratic party, founded with his cousin and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez. To date, six of the congressmen elected in 2006 from that political party are involved in the para-politics scandal.