Uribe testified in front of a Bogota court: “There was never a conspiracy against the Supreme Court in my government.”
The former president also claimed his constant contact with the judiciary throughout his time in office, especially regarding the issue of parapolitics, showed his collaboration with the Supreme Court.
Santiago Gonzalez, attorney of former paramilitary leader Jose Orlando Moncada, alias “Tasmania,” was allegedly involvedin a conspiracy to discredit a Supreme Court official.
Tasmania said that Gonzalez forced him to sign a document falsely accusing the Supreme Court’s Ivan Velasquez – one of the main investigators in the parapolitics scandal – of trying to bribe Tasmania to accuse Uribe of having paramilitary ties.
It was hoped the revelation of a bribery plot putting forward “false allegations” about Uribe’s paramilitary ties would discredit and distract attention away from actual allegations, Tasmania claimed.
The former paramilitary leader also accused relatives of Uribe of being involved in the conspiracy, namely Santiago Uribe, the former president’s brother, and Mario Uribe, his cousin. Both were linked to paramilitary groups, with Mario currently in prison.
In court, Uribe denied knowing Gonzalez.
The former president had previously failed to appear in court three times “without justification.” At his last missed session, on November 4, Judge Martha Saldarriaga said if he did not attend the next hearing he could be declared a “reluctant witness,” which could have led to charges of contempt of court.
Uribe’s lawyer, Jaime Granados, blamed the previous absence on the former leader’s busy international schedule.
Velasquez was appointed by the Supreme Court to lead the investigation of politicians’ ties to military death squads. He has clashed frequently with Uribe over the parapolitics scandal and the illegal wiretapping carried out by the DAS under the former leader’s administration.
Earlier this year, former Uribe adviser Jose Obdulio Gaviria was named in a Wikileaks cable dated from 2008 between the Colombian chief of police Oscar Naranjo and then US ambassador William Brownfield. The cable said Gaviria organized a meeting inside the presidential palace with ex-paramilitary spokesman Antonio Lopez, alias “Job.”
The paramilitaries allegedly offered the government video recordings revealing that Velasquez tried to undermine Uribe by collecting false evidence to implicate him in the scandal.
In the same cable, Brownfield recounts how Uribe used a television broadcast to accuse Velasquez of “trafficking in” and “getting drunk with” witnesses.
Velasquez was awarded the 2011 International Bar Association Human Rights Award for his legal work in Colombia.