The national coroner’s office has found evidence of a toxic substance in the prison cell of a key witness in a case linking former President Alvaro Uribe to a paramilitary group.
The evidence indicates a poison attempt. According to the coroner’s office, the substance found produces the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, hyper-salivation, tremors, hypothermia, metabolic acidosis, and deterioration of the mental state. It can also cause cardiac arrest.
Juan Monsalve, who has coordinated with congressman Ivan Cepeda to deliver testimony against Uribe, has received threats in the past. Cepeda requested enhanced security measures for Monsalve in September 2011 after he survived an attack in prison.
Monsalve claims that former president Uribe formed a paramilitary group at his country estate, “Las Guacharacas” in north eastern Antioquia.
In statements to the prosecutor general Monsalve asserted that the paramilitary group known as the Metro Bloc was created in response to a 1995 attack on the Uribe estate in which property was burned and 600 cattle were stolen by the ELN guerrilla group. Monsalve stated that he had worked on the estate previous to the attack. He confessed to have joined the ranks of the Metro Bloc and claimed that the estate served as a military base.
The estate compromises about 5,000 acres located near the Nus river in the lush and mountainous San Roque municipality, some 20 miles east of Medellin.
In June 1983, Alberto Uribe Sierra, the father of former president Alvaro Uribe, was killed by FARC rebels on the same estate. His son Alvaro sent a helicopter to save him, but when it arrived, Alberto Uribe Sierra was already dead, shot in the head by a FARC rebel.
Dozens of Colombian congressmen — the majority of them allies of Uribe — have been convicted for their ties to the now-demobilized paramilitary organization the AUC, responsible for tens of thousands of human rights violations, including murder, rape, and forced displacement. The infiltration of the paramilitary group into congress has popularly become known as “parapolitics.”
FACT SHEET: Parapolitics