Uribe Orders Roundup of Opponents in Witch Hunt

Justice For Colombia News | on: Thursday, 29 May 2008

Tribune report on the Uribe regime's announcement to open legal proceedings against senior opposition politicians from the 'Democratic Pole' and Liberal parties in a crude attempt to silence opposition and divert attention away from a growing scandal that has seen over 30 pro-government Congress members jailed for links to paramilitaries and drugs traffickers.

Uribe Orders Roundup of Opponents in Witch Hunt

Tribune - 30 May 2008 - by Keith Richmond

THE right-wing regime of President Alvaro Uribe in Colombia has started legal proceedings against leading opposition figures in an extraordinary clampdown on freedom and democracy in the country.

Attorney-General Mario Iguaran has announced plans to prosecute a dozen leading opponents – including two senators, a congressman and a newspaper editor – in an attempt to silence opposition and divert attention away from a scandal which has seen more than 30 pro-government members of congress jailed for links with drugs traffickers and paramilitaries.

Liam Craig-Best of Justice for Colombia, the British NGO which campaigns for human rights in the country, said: "It's a witch hunt by the regime against opposition figures."

Most of those targeted have been involved in recent negotiations to free hostages held by FARC rebels. Those negotiations, in which President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela played a prominent part, were successful and led to the release of six hostages.

Liberal Party Senator Piedad Cordoba and newspaper editor Carlos Lozano were both authorised by the government to try and help the hostages. But now they, like Senator Gloria Ramirez and Congressman Wilson Borja, former trade union leaders who represent the Democratic Pole party and are outspoken critics of President Uribe, have been threatened with jail.

Former minister and presidential candidate Alvaro Leyva; Lazaro Viveros, a peace adviser to President Andres Pastrana between 1998 and 2002; and William Parra, a journalist, were also targeted.

Four foreign citizens are in the regime's sights, too: James C Jones, a US academic and Democratic Party consultant; Maria Augusta Calle, an Ecuadorian journalist; Ivan Larrea, a former presidential candidate in Ecuador; and Amilkar Figueroa, a member of the Venezuelan parliament.

The Colombian government said that evidence against all those involved was found in documents discovered on a laptop computer seized in a raid on a FARC camp in Ecuador in March – which also showed, it claimed, that the Venezuelan government backed the rebels.

But a report by experts at Interpol revealed that, during the three days the security forces had the computer, 48,000 files had been "created, accessed, modified or deleted" and the computers could not be used as evidence in a court of law.


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