Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe fiercely defended himself in Congress on Tuesday, days after the Supreme Court announced his witness tampering trial will begin on September 3.
During a Senate debate, the political patron of President Ivan Duque and leader of the ruling Democratic Center party attacked opposition Senator Ivan Cepeda, who accidentally got his far-right rival in the worst legal trouble ever.
The Supreme Court charged Uribe with fraud and bribery in February last year in the same ruling in which the high court absolved Cepeda of witness tampering charges filed by Uribe in 2014.
Uribe insisted that he will continue to “dismantle infamy” both in court and congress. The former president accused Cepeda, a former victims representative, of being a “guerrilla simulator.”
“In the more than 21 thousand wiretaps there are against me, there is not one word that breaks the law,” Uribe insisted, contradicting the court and evidence that has been leaked to media.
Cepeda urged Uribe “not to use your spokespersons to intervene in justice or attack the Supreme Court,” as some have been doing in an attempt to delegitimize the Supreme Court’s first criminal investigation against a former president.
I recommend that you prepare yourself with judicial arguments and not simply with this kind of interventions lacking any legitimacy and depth in the face of the torrent of evidence that, as you know well, awaits you in the Supreme Court.
Senator Ivan Cepeda
The confrontation in the Senate was the first after the Supreme Court’s summoned Uribe on Friday to appear in court on October 8, more than a month after the beginning of the trial in which 48 witnesses will be heard.
The court case threatens to end the decades-long and controversy-ridden political career of Uribe, while catapulting that of Cepeda, who in 2013 published a book on Uribe’s alleged leading role in the formation of the Bloque Metro paramilitary group in the 1990s.
Uribe falsely accused Cepeda of using a “cartel of false witnesses” for the book in which multiple former members of Bloque Metro testify that Uribe, his brother Santiago, and two neighboring families founded the paramilitary group that left more than 4,000 victims in Antioquia, Uribe’s home province.
The former president has admitted being friends with founding members of the Medellin Cartel but has categorically denied any illegal activity, despite mounting evidence indicating the opposite.
The court case will put a spotlight not just on Uribe’s alleged witness tampering practices, but also on his allegedly criminal past. Many of the witnesses were directly involved in the Bloque Metro or in investigations between the widespread ties between Colombia’s narco-elite, politicians and death squads.