On the ninth day of Colombia’s trial of the century, the Supreme Court is set to hear two attorneys and two congressional aides over the alleged fraud and bribery practices of former President Alvaro Uribe.
These witnesses are believed to be involved in the admitted bribery of former paramilitary fighter “Victor” and the alleged attempted bribery of Juan Guillermo Monsalve, one of the key witnesses who claim Uribe formed a death squad in the 1990s.
Witness #25 | Samuel Arturo Sanchez
Samuel Arturo Sanchez is an attorney who used to represent one of the AUC’s most important political chiefs, “Ernesto Baez.” He is called to testify because he also represented Victor, who admitted receiving money from Uribe’s fixer and self-proclaimed “gangstattorney” Diego Cadena, on the first day of the trial.
Sanchez is currently under house arrest on criminal conspiracy and bribery charges related to his alleged ties to the mafia in Manizales, the capital of the Caldas department.
The bribery charge is unrelated to the Uribe case; the Supreme Court presumably believes Sanchez knows more about the alleged bribery of Victor by Uribe’s fixer and his assistant, Juan Jose Salazar.
Witness #26 | Juan Jose Salazar
Juan Jose Salazar is an attorney who works with Cadena and allegedly took part in the failed efforts to bribe Victor.
Salazar’s alleged bribery attempts got him in trouble, mainly he discussed bribery over the phone while being wiretapped.
According to transcripts of wiretap recordings released by journalist Daniel Coronell in May, Salazar and “Diana,” Victor’s former political chief, discussed bribing the former paramilitary in May.
Coronell reported that the court has multiple recordings indicating that Diego and Cadena stepped up their alleged bribery practices after the Supreme Court filed criminal charges against Diego in February last year.
Curiously, W Radio last week released a recording apparently made by Salazar himself. In this recording, the attorney and Diana are heard talking about Victor’s damning testimony. This recording is not part of the court’s wiretaps and apparently made public to influence public opinion that increasingly has been turning against the former president.
Witness #27 | Vicky Jaramillo
Vicky Jaramillo used to work for Uribe’s Democratic Center party in Congress who told Blu Radio that she told the former President that Monsalve was willing to retract his claim Uribe formed the Bloque Metro paramilitary group.
Monsalve has consistently refused to retract his testimony, despite alleged offers of being bribed and intimidation attempts that forced his wife to flee the country.
After Jaramillo talked to Uribe, Cadena and the former president’s lawyer Jaime Lombana went to visit the key witness.
Monsalve isn’t stupid and possibly smarter than Uribe’s men. While Cadena and the former paramilitary’s prison mate Enrique Pardo were offering him judicial benefits, he was recording the conversation and surrendered this evidence to the Supreme Court.
Witness #28 | Fabian Arturo Rojas
Fabian Arturo Rojas is one of Uribe’s congressional aides. It is unclear how he would be involved in his boss’ alleged criminal practices to conceal the Uribe family’s controversial past.