Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is facing a preliminary investigation over accusations that he was complicit in a 1997 massacre, the Supreme Court announced on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court accepted the evidence presented by Colombian Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre on Tuesday and will include the evidence in an ongoing investigation about his rule as governor.
Uribe was the governor of the Antioquia province from 1995 to 1997 and is being investigated for his alleged involvement with paramilitary organizations.
Based on the recent testimony given by “Don Berna,” an extradited paramilitary leader, Uribe was implicated in the El Aro massacre.
Uribe denied the accusations saying on Wednesday that Don Berna is “one of the most sinister criminals in the country” and therefore not a reliable witness.
Francisco Villalba, a former member of paramilitary organization the AUC, testified against Uribe in 1998 and 2008 saying that he had been in a meeting with the then governor in which Uribe congratulated the group.
Villalba was assassinated in 2009, but his testimony has been kept on record and can be used in court.
Another witness, human rights worker Jesus Maria Valle, was killed one year after the massacre.
The accused senator claimed there is counter-evidence. Paramilitary chief Ramiro Vanoy, who admitted to being involved with the massacre, recently gave a statement to the Prosecutor General’s Office testifying that Uribe was not implicated.
The former president also suggested he was the victim of a conspiracy; “they always make this type of accusation of me during elections,” implying that it is a political tactic of his opponents to derail him.
Uribe is the third of his family to be embroiled in accusations over paramilitary activity; his brother Santiago is currently on trial for his alleged founding of a right-wing death squad in the 1980s while his cousin Mario was convicted for using paramilitary aid to get elected into Congress.
Uribe’s own 2002 presidential election campaign, like the campaigns of dozens of congressmen in that election year, received money and support from paramilitary umbrella organization AUC, according to the court.