One of Colombia’s top mafia lawyers, Diego Cadena, is set to defend former President Alvaro Uribe before the Supreme Court on Friday while his own liberty is at risk.
Cadena couldn’t possibly be under more pressure; the Prosecutor General’s Office is already investigating Uribe’s fixer over his alleged witness tampering practices and three other criminal charges.
The investigation against Uribe has already resulted in evidence that can be used against the mafia lawyer and is likely to produce more evidence when witnesses against the former president testify.
Pending criminal charges against Cadena
- Influence peddling
- Obstruction of justice
- Impersonating an officer
Cadena: the alleged key link
According to transcripts of wiretap recordings revealed in the media, Cadena is the key link between Uribe and the witnesses who allegedly have been bribed to defend the former president.
Cadena allegedly discussed witness tampering with Uribe and negotiated with witnesses in the cases against the former president and his brother, Santiago Uribe, according to these transcripts.
This evidence puts Cadena is caught in a catch 22. If the lawyer turns on Uribe, he would effectively admit to being guilty of the bribery charges filed by the prosecution last year. If he denies his alleged bribery practices under oath he could face additional perjury charges.
The mouthy lawyer may go mute
Cadena has defended his innocence in public and aggressively threatened to sue journalists who have reported on his alleged criminal activity.
Under oath, however, the lawyer is likely to invoke his right to remain silent to avoid incriminating himself in relation to the cases pending before the prosecution or risk additional perjury charges.
The situation of both Cadena and Uribe became critical on Tuesday when the first witness who was supposed to defend the former president’s innocence flipped and told the court he had received bribes from Cadena.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, prosecution sources said they would ask the Supreme Court to forward evidence of the alleged bribery, further adding pressure on the controversial attorney.
The same newspaper reported that Cadena has admitted paying the witness, but that this was a “humanitarian act,” not bribery.
Is the Uribe family’s house of cards coming down?
Uribe reportedly told people close to him that he never authorized Cadena to pay “Victor,” a claim the former president could sustain in court on October 8 unless he also invokes his right to remain silent.
The fraud and bribery charges filed against the former president has put the far-right politician’s entire family, with the exception of his wife, in unprecedented legal trouble.
The witness testimonies against Uribe have added evidence to pending criminal charges that both he and his brother allegedly formed death squads in the 1990s.
The Supreme Court said it found evidence indicating that Cadena bribed witnesses in the cases against both Alvaro and Santiago Uribe.
Even Uribe’s two sons are in trouble because one of the witnesses, “El Canoso,” has claimed that Tomas and Jeronimo Uribe had ties to paramilitary chief and mass rapist Hernan Giraldo, a.k.a. “The Monster.”
The prosecution announced false testimony charges against the witness in 2015, but never proceeded to take these charges to court.
The Supreme Court case turned the tables. Instead of witnesses against the Uribe family facing false testimony charges, those who have defended the former president and his brother are alleged of having taken bribes.