Colombian judicial authorities on Thursday opened a preliminary investigation against Medellin mayor Anibal Gaviria for alleged ties to a paramilitary death squad.
PROFILE: Anibal Gaviria
Alias “El Aleman,” whose real name is Fredy Rendon Herrera, a prominent ex-member of the defunct paramilitary coalition AUC accused Medellin’s mayor, Anibal Gaviria, of having received political support from the AUC during his 2003 gubernatorial campaign in the northwestern Antioquia department.
He also said in front of Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice that the mayor had searched for political support from the AUC’s Elmer Cardenas Bloc, a practice commonly reffered to as “parapolitics.”
FACT SHEET: Parapolitics
This accusation prompted an interrogation of Gaviria on the behalf of the Prosecutor General.
The Mayor’s Office responded later Thursday stating, “Anibal Gaviria Correa rejected the accusations, made all the necessary clarifications for the case, and provided evidence supporting his testimony.”
The Prosecutor General is now tasked with the decision of whether or not to open a formal investigation into possible paramilitary ties involving Gaviria.
The Medellin mayor is not the only one in his family investigated for ties to paramilitary death squads; Gaviria’s father, a wealthy businessmen and newspaper owner from the Antioquia department is also under investigation for “parapolitics,” or having friendly ties to death squads for political gain.
The parapolitics scandal is one of the biggest in Colombian recent history; Approximately 40 lawmakers and five governors have been convicted for their ties to illegal armed groups while approximately 11,000 businessmen, politicians, military commanders and public officials are suspected of having sought benefits from collaborating with the now-defunct AUC, according to the U.S. a terrorist organization.