The government of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe conspired with the AUC to conceal the true number of child paramilitary soldiers, and later sought to “take down” the Supreme Court that was investigating parapolitics, said the former leader of the AUC Tuesday.
While testifying from his U.S. prison before Colombian prosecutors, the former AUC head Salvatore Mancuso bashed statements made by the former president, who has said that he and members of his government are victim of political persecution and a “criminal conspiracy.”
According to Mancuso, “There exists no conspiracy against Uribe and his associates. The conspiracy that does exist is theirs.”
The former AUC head told the prosecutor that Uribe’s former peace commissioner, the now fugitive Luis Carlos Restrepo, conspired with the paramilitaries during the negotiation of the organization’s demobilization between 2003 and 2006.
“We met with the former peace commissioner and it was he who recommended we should not demobilize the minors, that it was better we sent them home and give them a bonus. Which was done,” Mancuso said.
According to the AUC leader, the conspiring continued after the AUC demobilized and the organization’s leaders were in jail, this time to “take down” the Supreme Court which was investigating and convicting members of Uribe’s family and congress coalition over teaming up with paramilitary groups to be elected into office in the 2002 and 2006 elections.
Mancuso said that “part of the conspiracy was to take down the court” and appoint an ad-hoc court with the aim of “hiding the truth.”
“They sent some representatives of the government and of [the former president’s cousin and now-jailed former senator] Mario Uribe to please not mention them and help them, to change my testimony,” said Mancuso, adding that he had documents to corroborate his allegations.
The statements made by the former AUC leader confirmed similar statements given earlier by paramilitary commander “Don Berna” and allied drug trafficker “El Tuso” who accused Uribe’s brother Santiago, his cousin Mario and former presidential adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria of conspiring with paramilitaries to falsely accuse the court of trying to bribe witnesses and to link court magistrates with Italian businessman and alleged AUC money launderer Giorgio Sale.
“They told me ‘Salvatore, get me some evidence of links some members of the court had with Giorgio Sale. We need the evidence to be able to attack the court’,” said Mancuso.
According to the former AUC leader, he “told them I wouldn’t cooperate because in the end it would be them [the Supreme Court magistrates] judging me and they told me not to worry because they would set up another court.”
Uribe, his family and former members of his two administrations are in increasing legal trouble.
The former President denies any wrongdoings by himself or his associates and claims to be victim of a “criminal conspiracy” and “political persecution.”
Dozens of Uribe-loyal congressmen, his cousin and his former intelligence chief have been sentenced to prison for their ties to the AUC.
Uribe’s former agriculture minister is in jail awaiting trial over the embezzling of $25 million in agriculture subsidies. Two other former ministers are investigated over the bribery of former congressmen to allow the 2006 reelection of Uribe.
The former peace commissioner fled the country before being charged over the staged demobilization of a non-existent FARC front, while a second spy chief fled the country just before the Supreme Court ordered her detention and that of Uribe’s former chief of staff over the illegal wiretapping of the court and government critics.
Colombia’s Congress is investigating the former president himself over the wiretap scandal.