Colombia’s Housing Minister German Vargas Lleras accuses the ex-president’s brother of being part of a conspiracy plot to fabricate evidence against him after being accused of having links to a jailed paramilitary warlord Wednesday, local media reported Thursday.
According to reports Vargas made a formal complaint to the Prosecutor General’s Office Thursday, alleging that Santiago Uribe, the brother of former President Alvaro Uribe Velez, was behind a plot to buy witnesses who would give false testimony against him in a case tying the housing minister with paramilitary “Martin Llanos.”
Uribe and his brother were quick to deny Vargas’ charges. Speaking to weekly Semana, Uribe said that Vargas sought to divert attention form his own investigation with these accusations.
“They want to throw accusations at members of my family, at an honest person of moral principles like my brother,” he said.
From in front of his office in Bogota, Vargas gave additional details of the plot, which included a group of emerald dealers and a colonel who was only indentified by the name of Ramirez.
“All the knowledge I have, I have offered to the Prosecutor General’s Office, so he can investigate the veracity of the facts,” Vargas said. “Behind this plot was money collected by emerald dealers who hired Colonel Ramirez to buy testimony and involve me in things that are not true.”
The man in charge of the operation was Mr. Santiago Uribe Velez,” he added.
Former President Uribe denounced Vargas in a wide range of Colombian media Thursday. In an interview with La W Radio, he called the housing minister “an ambitious man that has no moral limits.” He also accused Vargas of “encouraging all kinds of misdeeds and patronage from Congress.”
Vargas’ accusations come just a day after Colombia’s Inspector General’s Office announced a preliminary investigation into Vargas’ alleged ties with the jailed paramilitary.
Inspector General Ordoñez opened the investigation after former officials testified that Vargas met with the warlord when he was a senator.The minister is accused of having had ties with paramilitary groups in the eastern Casanare department where Martin Llanos was active until his arrest in February.