Two aides of former President Alvaro Uribe who met with representatives of demobilized AUC leader “Don Berna” in 2008 reject the paramilitary leader’s claims that the meeting “gave more solidity to the relations we had the national government.”
According to Don Berna, who is currently serving time in a Florida prison for drug trafficking, his subordinates helped the government illegally wiretap Supreme Court officials and falsely accuse judges of of having ties to drug traffickers and pressuring witnesses in cases against politicians with ties to the AUC.
Don Berna said in 2008 his associates met the former presidential adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria, former Cauca governor and ambassador to the Dominican Republic Juan Jose Chaux Mosquera, former press secretary and current ambassador to the Vatican, Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, and Marta Leal, director of the now-defunct intelligence agency DAS.
The meeting, in the presidential palace, “gave more solidity to the relations we had the national government,” said the former leader of the AUC in his first testimony before Colombian prosecutors since late 2010.
Former presidential adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria, currently one of Uribe’s closest allies, dismissed Don Berna’s statements, telling Noticias Caracol that “this is the word of the one who is extradited against that of the one who extradited him.”
Jaime Granados, the defense attorney of both Uribe and Velasquez, responded in the name of the former press secretary calling Don Berna’s statements before U.S. and Colombian prosecutors “deceitful.”
“This is another manifestation of the criminal vengeance the country already knows. The only thing my client asks is that the authorities look for who knows the truth and not serve as an instrument of falsehoods whose only goal is to deceive justice,” Granados said in a press release.
The former president did not immediately respond to the accusations.
Don Berna’s testimony adds to the testimonies of National Police director Oscar Naranjo, several demobilized paramilitaries and former DAS officials who have accused the Uribe government of wanting to frame the Supreme Court. Both Gaviria and Velasquez are under criminal investigation over the meeting.