Colombia’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that President Alvaro Uribe will have to testify in the trial of his cousin, former Senate president Mario Uribe Escobar, who is facing charges of colluding with paramilitaries, reports Caracol Radio.
In the trial, which began on Tuesday, the court wants the president to testify on the methods Mario Uribe used to obtain votes in his election to the Senate, which, prosecutors claim, were extremely shady and came from illicit deals with AUC paramilitary figures.
According to the indictment, after “carefully reviewing the election results [for Mario Uribe] in the municipalities of Sahagun, Montelibano, Planeta Rica and Chinu, in the electoral processes for 1998, 2002 and 2006, it makes us wonder, how can anyone, no matter who he is, who doesn’t come from that region … obtain such [high] votes, which he had never obtained before, and then return to his normal channels without further explanation,” reports El Espectador.
Mario Uribe, however, contends that he was able to win the elections due to the popularity of his cousin, President Alvaro Uribe.
The Supreme Court also declared on Tuesday that Partido de la U presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos and former peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo will be called to testify in the trial of Mario Uribe.
Mario Uribe was arrested in February after former paramilitary fighters Jairo Castillo Peralta, alias “Pitirri,” and Salvatore Mancuso accused him of making political deals in order to be elected to the Senate in 2002, and of using his relationship with the AUC to buy cheap land in the Cordoba department.
Uribe was also briefly imprisoned in 2008 on charges of links with paramilitaries. He sought political asylum in Costa Rica after the Prosecutor General’s Office ordered his arrest, but it was denied. In August, 2008, the then-deputy prosecutor general, Guillermo Mendoza Diago, released Mario Uribe on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to continue detaining him.
Mario Uribe was head of the Colombia Democratic party, founded with his cousin and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. To date, six of the congressmen elected in 2006 from that political party are involved in the para-politics scandal.