President Alvaro Uribe’s administration released Sunday a bulleted account of meetings with ex-paramilitary ‘Job’ and the lawyer of ex-paramilitary ‘Don Berna’ that confirmed news reports that two other government officials were present.
At the third of three meetings with the pair of paramilitary representatives, the soon-to-be Colombian ambassador to the Dominican Republic, doctor Juan José Cháux; the lawyer Óscar Iván
Palacio; and a agent of DAS, the Administrative Security Department, were present, the document revealed, confirming earlier a report last Monday by RCN Radio.
The document is the latest riposte in a back-and-forth between the Supreme Court and the government began two weeks ago when Supreme Court president Francisco Javier Ricaurte charged that the government was working to discredit the court by meeting with paramilitary representatives who claimed to have evidence incriminating magistrate Iván Velásquez. Uribe responded that it is his staff’s duty to meet with those claiming to have evidence against government officials.
At that time, the meetings at Casa Nariño, Colombia’s presidential palace, were said to include Uribe’s legal secretary Edmundo Del Castillo; press secretary César Mauricio Velásquez; Diego Álvarez, lawyer of ex-paramilitary Fernando
Murillo Bejarano, better known as ‘Don Berna’; and desmobilized paramilitary Antonio ‘Job’ López.
The document released Sunday was at turns defensive and agressive. After noting former governor Cháux “volunteered to participate in the meeting,” it mentioned that before his later appointment as ambassador the government “verified the nonexistence of lawsuits that could compromise his responsibility through links with armed groups at the margin of the law.”
Yet the final point of the communication went on the offensive, asserting that the administration had “complied with all security protocols,” had properly registered the meeting, and, in what seemed to be a direct riposte to comments made by Supreme Court president Ricaurte three weeks ago, asserted there was no arrest order out for either of those who attended the meetings.
“At no moment has this encounter, which occurred with the utmost transparency, been hidden,” it concluded.