Ex-President Alvaro Uribe’s testimony before the investigative committee has been suspended until July after the Colombian House’s investigative committee members could not reach a verdict over whether to allow victims to question Uribe.
The Colombian House’s Investigation and Accusation Committee, presiding over the investigation into former President Uribe’s involvement in the DAS wiretap scandal, deliberated for over an hour before suspending Uribe’s “free version” testimony, broadcast live on television, until July 20.
The lawyer of ex-Senator Piedad Cordoba, a victim of the wiretapping scandal, ealier made a request on her behalf for the victims of the wiretapping to be able to directly question and interrogate the former president regarding his testimony.
Two of the investigative congressmen, Heriberto Escobar and Yahir Acuña, had earlier stated that this was not possible for the victims because Uribe’s testimony was a “free version,” which does not permit intervention by third parties.
The committee were not able to reach a conclusion after only eight of the ten members were able to meet in order to resolve the issues raised by Cordoba’s defense lawyer.
In what was a brief but at times heated hearing, Uribe claimed that a defense lawyer for the victims, Sandra Gamboa, had called him a “murderer.”
“This is the continuation of a long string of outrages against those who recovered security [in Colombia],” said the former head of state, who turned up with many members of his former cabinet, as well as his son Jeronimo.
Sandra Gamboa had expressed fear for the safety of the victims, an accusation which Uribe labeled as a “habit” of those who wish to defame him.
“They defame me…today they assign me responsibility over murders, when it was the government that protected the human rights defenders, journalists and trade unionists,” he said.
According to representative
Acuña, the lawyer had asked him to guarantee the safety of the victims once they left the room, the announcement of which caused a stir in the Congress room where the hearing was being held.
Acuña’s assertions that the hearings must remain public, Uribe admonished him that “I pray for the sake of objectivity, that every time you say that hearing is public, remember it was me who asked that this be done.”
During his brief opportunity to address the committee and the viewing public, he further reacted to Gamboa’s safety fears, adding that “When I react, I ask for respect, objectivity and the right of defense, then they come out to say that they are at risk from those that [could] kill them…today they have shown themselves before the world once again, taking advantage of the public broadcasting…when they accuse me and I simply invoke the right that I am heard.”
“That is the trap with which they have mistreated me,” he stated, before adding that “we will return here.” Uribe will now give his testimony in the next session, rescheduled for July 20.