The left-wing senator made the comments in a radio interview in August in what was a scathing attack on the ex-president, who is awaiting trial over the tampering of witnesses who claimed the former president formed a paramilitary death squad in the 1990s.
“In my personal opinion, seeing what has happened, I made the argument about paramilitarism in Antioquia. Uribe should have been imprisoned ages ago for crimes against humanity,” said the former Bogota mayor.
Uribe reacted furiously to the comments and said Monday he would take legal action in search of a retraction, reported El Espectador newspaper.
On Twitter, the president defended signing off on the self-defense groups that would later would form the backbone of the AUC, a terrorist organization, claiming he was promoting “civilian cooperation” with the security forces that were fighting Marxist guerrilla groups.
The AUC and associated paramilitary groups ended up murdering more civilians than any other actor in the armed conflict.
Uribe now wants the court to order Petro to “refrain from publicly referring” to him “using assertions that affect his rights to a good name, honor, dignity and the presumption of innocence.”
The former president and current leader of the Democratic Center party wants the interview in question removed from the social media accounts of the social democrat as well as its removal from local media, specifically Caracol Radio, Caracol News, Semana magazine and El Colombiano newspaper.
Uribe’s lawyer, Abelardo de la Espriella, labelled Petro’s claims that Uribe and ex-president Cesar Gaviria “ensured that male and female workers have been taken to a state of semi-slavery under sexual harassment” as slanderous.
De la Espriella believes that Uribe, who served two terms as president between 2002 and 2010 is in a “state of defenselessness against the statements spread by Petro that violate his honor and good name.”
Curiously, the last time Uribe sued another senator over his alleged role in the victimization of thousands of Colombians, he ended up being investigated himself.
Colombia’s Supreme Court rejects Uribe’s ‘unfounded’ bias claim and proceeds with witness tampering trial
Petro has long been a critic of the hard-right politician, calling for the former president to be held accountable for the mass murder of civilians by the military carried out when Uribe was commander in chief.
Uribe is currently awaiting trial at the Supreme Court amid claims that he and a number of his associates have been tampering witnesses who claim that the former president and his brother formed death squads in the 1990s.
His legal troubles, however, are over his alleged leading role in the formation of a death squad after Escobar was killed.
Uribe has denied any ties to the “Bloque Metro” and was recorded talking to one of the founders of the far-right paramilitary group as part of the alleged conspiracy to prevent witnesses from coming forward.
Uribe began his political career in the 1970s and rose to prominence in Medellin and the surrounding Antioquia province during the rise of the Medellin Cartel.
Despite the criminal charges, the former president continues to enjoy support from a minority of conservative and far-right voters; he was reelected to the senate in March with more votes than any other senator.
Nevertheless, pollster CNC said that the majority of Colombians support the Supreme Court decision to try Uribe after decades of accusations he has long been tied to drug traffickers and terrorism.
While by far the most prominent, Uribe is not the only Colombian politician in trouble with the law; more than 60 lawmakers have been sentenced to prison for using death squads to inflate their political or economical power.