The seventh day of Colombia’s trial of the century is the first day in which the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a former paramilitary commander who has accused Uribe’s son of having ties to one of the country’s most notorious sex offender.
“El Canoso” will be the first witness to testify against Uribe after two weeks of witnesses who had been called in by the former president, who has been charged with bribery and fraud in an alleged attempt to prevent his allegedly criminal history ending up in court.
Witness #21 | “Racumin”
Racumin is a former member of ERPAC, one of the groups formed by dissident members of paramilitary organization AUC. Not much else is known about the former paramilitary who was arrested in 2011 on multiple war crime charges.
According to opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda, the victim of Uribe’s alleged fraud and bribery practices, Racumin was never a witness in the case that followed Uribe’s bogus witness tampering charges against Cepeda.
Uribe added the former paramilitary to his list of witnesses after he was charged with fraud and bribery in an apparent attempt to discredit the claims of those who have testified Uribe formed the Bloque Metro death squads in the 1990s.
So far this strategy has been a disaster. Uribe’s first witness, “Victor,” reportedly flipped, admitted he was bribed by Uribe’s fixer Diego Cadena, and even surrendered evidence.
It is unclear what Racumin can contribute to the case other than reaffirm the false claims that got Uribe in court in the first place.
Witness #22 | “El Canoso”
Jose Gelvez, a.k.a. “El Canoso,” was the financial chief of drug trafficker Hernan Giraldo who has been accused of raping more than 200 girls when he was the commander of the AUC’s Tayrona Resistance Bloc.
Gelvez’ previous confessions have contributed to the incarceration of many powerful politicians. This time, his collaboration with justice may not only incriminate the former president, but also Uribe’s sons Tomas and Jeronimo.
According to the Supreme Court, the former paramilitary commander accused Uribe’s sons of ties to his paramilitary group and specifically his boss to advance the Uribes’ artisan exports business in a recorded conversation with opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda.
Gelvez additionally reported a plan to assassinate late drug lord Pablo Escobar’s lieutenant “Popeye,” who on multiple occasions has confirmed that Uribe’s ties to the Medellin Cartel went much further than Uribe’s close friendship with the Ochoa family, the cartel’s co-founders.
The former paramilitary commander said that authorities planned to extradite him to the United States to prevent him from testifying any further, which effectively happened in 2012. He has since returned to Colombia though and has a few scores to settle with the Uribe family.
Witness #23 | “Simon”
“Simon” is a former paramilitary fighter of the Bloque Cacique Pipinta paramilitary group who was one of the first witnesses Uribe’s defense called to testify against Cepeda when the former president filed bogus criminal charges against the opposition senator in 2014.
The former paramilitary is one of the allegedly bribed witnesses used by Uribe to discredit the two key witnesses who have testified the former president formed the Bloque Metro and “politically finish off Senator Ivan Cepeda and discredit the debate he was promoting about paramilitarism in Antioquia,” according to Supreme Court.
In the ruling that absolved Cepeda and opened the criminal investigation against Uribe, the Supreme Court said that Simon tried to obtain benefits from Cepeda in exchange for money, but failed.
The Supreme Court called “Simon” to testify again, but not before ordering a criminal investigation against him for lying under oath and ordering disciplinary investigations against Uribe and far-right Senator Jose Obdulio Gaviria, the cousin of slain drug lord Pablo Escobar, claiming they “took part in the set-up that was being orchestrated” against Cepeda.
Witness #24 | “Monoleche”
“Monoleche” is the brother-in-law of Carlos Castaño, the founder of paramilitary organization AUC, who became a large landowner in Antioquia thanks to the paramilitaries’ mass land dispossession in Uribe’s home province.
The senior former member of the AUC initially accused the Uribe administration of colluding with the paramilitaries, telling the court in 2013 that he and other demobilized paramilitary leaders had been told that “they less you talk, the more you live.”
He subsequently went quiet about his allies in politics and the business sector and was released from prison in 2016. He instantly became one of the largest landowners in Antioquia, Uribe’s home province, by claiming ownership of the land that had been dispossessed by his former paramilitary group.
Monoleche became news again in May 2018 when media revealed the Prosecutor General’s Office was investigating him for allegedly threatening prosecutors and extortion, and he was tied to the killing of eight land restitution officials trying to visit one of his allegedly stolen properties.
Two months later he began testifying in the cases against Uribe and his brother, claiming both were the victim of conspiracies.