On the fourth day of Colombia’s trial of the century, the Supreme Court is scheduled to be hearing the sister-in law of former president Alvaro Uribe‘s lawyer and two businessmen.
Witness #10 | Maria Mercedes Williamson
Maria Mercedes Williamson is the sister-in-law of Uribe’s attorney Jaime Lombana and also related to Enrique Pardo, the prison mate of Juan Guillermo Monsalve, the key witness who has testified that Uribe formed the Bloque Metro paramilitary group when he was Governor of Antioquia.
Williamson’s role in Uribe’s alleged fraud and bribery practices is relatively minor as no evidence that was made public indicates she actively took part in manipulating witnesses.
She’s been called to testify because she and Lombana were in the room when Pardo and Diego’s fixer Diego Cadena were recorded trying to convince Monsalve to retract the claim incriminating Uribe.
Witness #11 | Rodrigo Vidal
Rodrigo Vidal is a businessman from the southern Huila province and apparently a friend of Alvaro Hernan Prada, the house representative who the Supreme Court also charged with fraud and bribery.
Vidal linked Prada to Carlos Eduardo Lopez, another businessman, who was recorded five days after the court filed criminal charges against the far-right politicians, calling Monsalve to tell him that “they’re terrified. Mr. Prada is scared shitless and the son of a bitch asked me to help.”
This help consisted of trying to convince Monsalve to retract his claims and falsely accuse opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda of conspiracy, Lopez was recorded saying.
Witness #12 | Hugo Tovar
Hugo Tovar his been one of Uribe’s closest aides since 2002, and is close to the Democratic Center people from Huila, like Prada and Vidal.
Tovar’s name first surged in 2011, when Uribe was embroiled in a scandal about the illegal wiretapping of the Supreme Court, a crime that landed his former chief of staff, Bernardo Moreno, in prison.
Congress at the time had opened an investigation’s into Uribe’s alleged role in the illegal wiretapping practices. The Huila lawyer went to a notary office to get his claim on paper that Uribe was the victim of “a criminal revenge” of former Supreme Court magistrate “Yesid Ramirez,” a claim that proved to be false and now seems to be backfiring.
Tovar told Huila newspaper La Nacion in July that he was “unaware of the reasons why I am called to testify. I have nothing to do with this matter.”
Former Justice Minister Rafael Nieto contradicted Tovar last year in an interview with Bucaramanga website El Frente, claiming that Uribe’s ally was among several people close to the former president who were contacted by “several people” “to tell them that Juan Guillermo Monsalve is willing to retract,” which he wasn’t.