Retired Colombian police major Juan Carlos Meneses remains firm in his accusation that President Alvaro Uribe‘s brother, Santiago Uribe, led a paramilitary death squad in the 1990s, and denies that he was bribed to implicate the Uribes.
Meneses, who on Tuesday gave official testimony about a massacre in the Antioquia department to a Colombian prosecutor in Argentina, reiterated claims that Santiago Uribe was the head of paramilitary group “The Twelve Apostles,” which was responsible for various assassinations.
“The truth, which I’ve clearly stated, is that Santiago Uribe Velez took part in the organization, creation, operations and development of the paramilitary group ‘The Twelve Apostles’ in the 1990s,” Meneses told Noticias Uno on Sunday.
Meneses, who originally made his allegations in May, claims that the president’s brother was the main fundraiser and strategist behind the group. According to Meneses, he attended meetings with the group in which it was decided who was going to be killed. The former police commander’s role, he claims, was to make sure no authorities would be present at the time of the murder.
Benavides alleged that in April 2008, Meneses bought him a plane ticket to Bogota, where the colonel met with Los Comba, who offered him cash to sully the Uribes’ name.
Meneses claims however that “there was a meeting in Bogota, but the only ones in the meeting were Benavides and [his] lawyer [and that] there were never any narco-traffickers present.”
Meneses also claimed that he has proof that Benavides knew about Santiago Uribe’s ties to the paramilitary group. According to Meneses, he delivered a recording to the Colombian prosecutor who interviewed him in Argentina, which shows Benavides speaking and admitting that he, like Meneses, received payments from Santiago Uribe.
“Maybe if Benavides listened to the recording, he will recant his allegations against me,” Meneses added.
Meneses also responded to allegations of his ties to narco-traffickers by alleging that he has documents from Colombia’s prosecutor general proving that there were never any investigations against him for ties to narco-traffickers. “Why is it that once I bring up an allegation against the family of [President] Alvaro Uribe, allegations of my ties to narco-trafficking begin to surface?” Meneses asked.
The retired police major added that during his time in the police force, he was decorated twice for outstanding performance by Alvaro Uribe, who was governor of Antioquia at the time. “If I was the best officer when Alvaro Uribe was governor, and now I make allegations against his brother, how do I [suddenly] turn into the worst criminal?”
Following the original allegations, Santiago Uribe vehemently denied any involvement, stating that the same accusations had been “archived by the prosecutor general of the nation of Colombia, following the dismissal of two investigations on May 8, 1996, and February 29, 2000, respectively.”
For his part, Colombian Defense Minister Gabriel Silva called the accusations a Venezuelan plan to discredit the Colombian head of state.
Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s office announced in late May that they would open a pre-investigation Santiago Uribe.