Former President Uribe of Colombia accused of witness tampering | News

Uribe, who was president from 2002 to 2010, faces up to 12 years in prison for witness tampering and bribery.

Former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has been accused of witness tampering and bribery, becoming the first head of state to face a criminal trial in the Latin American nation.

The charges arise from an investigation into Uribe’s alleged ties to right-wing paramilitary groups. The 71-year-old leader is accused of “offering cash or other benefits” to witnesses to discredit a political opponent who was investigating his family ties to armed groups.

If convicted, Uribe faces up to 12 years in prison.

Uribe, who was president from 2002 to 2010, has denied wrongdoing and has accused Colombia’s attorney general of “political revenge.”

There are tapped telephone conversations in which the former president can be heard discussing with one of his lawyers the efforts to convince two former paramilitary combatants who were going to testify against him. Uribe claimed that his conversations were illegally intercepted.

“I never tried to look for witnesses. I wanted to defend my reputation,” Uribe said during the virtual hearing.

Judge Sandra Heredia denied his request to dismiss the case.

The case dates back to 2012.

Uribe said Friday that he was hurt by being the first former president who had to defend himself in court.

The matter dates back to 2012, when Uribe, then a senator, filed a complaint against left-wing senator Iván Cepeda, whom he accused of hatching a plot to falsely link him to paramilitary groups.

But the Supreme Court decided not to investigate Cepeda and instead focused its sights on Uribe.

The investigation against Uribe began in 2018 and has had numerous twists and turns, with several attorneys general seeking to close the case.

It has gained new momentum under the government of Attorney General Luz Camargo, who took power in March and was chosen by Colombia’s first leftist president, Gustavo Petro, historically an enemy of Uribe.

Uribe, who remains a prominent voice on Colombia’s right, was known for being tough on leftist fighters in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and strongly opposed the historic 2016 peace deal that saw the disarmament of the Marxist rebels.

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