Friday, January 22, 2021

Colombia: Supreme Court audio and transcripts indicate former president Alvaro Uribe ordered fraud and bribery

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Former President Alvaro Uribe ordered to discredit a witness who had testified the far-right politician founded a death squad in the 1990s, according to leaked Supreme Court transcripts.

The transcripts of a phone call between Uribe (AUV) and one of his assistants, Fabian Rojas, was released by public news program Noticias Uno on Sunday.

In the transcript, Uribe tells Rojas on April 23 to “discredit the testimony” of Pablo Hernan Sierra, one of the surviving members of the Bloque Metro paramilitary group who has testified that Uribe and his brother Santiago founded this death squad.

“The testimony obtained by Mr. Diego Cadena is against this gentleman, President,” Rojas responded.

Cadena, a mafia lawyer and Uribe’s fixer, has been caught on tape coercing witnesses multiple times and was accused of bribing “Victor,” a former paramilitary fighter who was expected to testify in favor of Uribe.

The court document additionally said that Rojas and Cadena talked frequently and that in one of the conversations, Uribe’s assistant allegedly made it clear that the former president is aware of the activity of the fixer.

To add to the evidence indicating Uribe’s leading role in the fraud and bribery practices, Noticias Uno additionally released the audio of a wiretap in which Cadena asks Uribe permission to seek judicial benefits for a witness.

[su_quote]Diego Cadena: It’s a review action in court because the gentleman has a 44-year sentence for kidnapping, what I can do…

Alvaro Uribe: “Ah no, a legal remedy must be pursued.” [/su_quote]

According to Noticias Uno, this conversation refers to Juan Guillermo Monsalve, the son of the former caretaker of the Uribe family’s Guacharacas estate who confirmed Sierra’s claim Uribe’s co-founded the death squad.

The testimony of Cadena, one of the key figures in Uribe’s alleged fraud and bribery practices, was adjourned on Friday “allegedly for being one of the most extensive,” the news program reported.

The recordings released by Noticias Uno confirmed claims by a source close to the investigation, who told newspaper El Espectador that Cadena always “reported back” to Uribe about his alleged attempts to manipulate witnesses like Monsalve and Victor while he was being wiretapped.

Related: Colombia’s health watchdog investigated over pharma bribes

The reported flipping of Victor and the apparent instructions to manipulate the witnesses tying him to the death squad that left 4,000 victims in his home province Antioquia increasingly indicate how much trouble Uribe is in.

Other previously released evidence indicate that, instead of backing down,  the former president stepped up his attempts to manipulate witnesses, not even to defend himself against the fraud and bribery charges, but to prevent the case from adding evidence about his allegedly criminal career.

The court opened the criminal investigation after Uribe filed bogus criminal charges against Ivan Cepeda, claiming the opposition senator had been tampering witnessed, and the court found evidence it was the other way around..

The first evidence of the Uribe family’s to organized crime surged in 1984 when the Uribe family helicopter was found in Tranquilandia, one of the cocaine factories of the Medellin Cartel.

Despite mounting evidence of his allegedly criminal ties to the Ochoa crime Family, who founded the Medellin Cartel with slain drug lord Pablo Escobar, Uribe has evaded court for 35 years.

The ongoing trial, however, appears to end this stroke of luck as Uribe will go into history as the first president facing criminal charges before the Supreme court.

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