More Politicians Linked to Paramilitaries in Colombia

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 27 February 2009

In the latest phase of what has become known in Colombia as the 'parapolitica scandal', the Colombian Supreme Court has ordered a close ally of President Uribe to answer questions about his links to a rightwing paramilitary death squad. Ex-Senator Carlos Garcia, the former chairman of the pro-Uribe 'Partido de la U', was called to appear by the court on February 25th to answer questions about an alleged deal he made with the AUC paramilitary group to help get him elected in the region of Tolima. The scandal has so far seen around 70 politicians with links to the President investigated for their paramilitary ties.

On January 30th Senator Adriana Gutierrez, another close Uribe ally also from the 'Partido de la U', resigned her seat in Congress in an effort to escape investigation for her own AUC links. The Supreme Court opened an investigation into her after photos taken in the province of Caldas were published in which she and current finance minister, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, could be seen in the company of a well-known paramilitary. E-mails were subsequently found showing contact with paramilitary commander Ernesto Baez.

Numerous politicians in Uribe's coalition have been found to have allied themselves with the paramilitaries in recent years. The links range from taking donations from drug trafficking paramilitary commanders, to full-scale electoral pacts in which the paramilitaries would chose the candidate and murder, or threaten to murder, those who dared stand against them.

All of the 70 or so politicians involved are supporters of President Uribe including his cousin, Senator Mario Uribe, and several of those instrumental in getting him elected in 2002. In addition, the investigations have implicated several senior military officers, business leaders and even the President himself, whom witnesses have accused of meeting with paramilitary leaders on several occasions.

Colombia's Supreme Court, which is tasked with investigating the scandal, has complained that the Attorney General's office is delaying cases against many of the politicians involved. Such complaints have further fuelled rumours that the office of the Attorney General has been infiltrated by the paramilitaries too. Rather than supporting the investigations, President Uribe has responded by repeatedly attacking the Supreme Court and accusing several of the judges of political bias.

See also:

Oct 2008 Human Rights Watch: Colombian Government Hampering Justice

Sep 2008 Uproar over Secret Meeting with Paramilitaries in Presidential Palace

Sep 2008 Senior Regional Official, Brother of Interior & Justice Minister, Detained

Aug 2008 Brother of Colombia's Interior Minister Linked to Drugs Lord and Death Squad

May 2008 Key Witness Murdered in Colombia

April 2008 Mounting Evidence of President's Involvement in Massacre

Feb 2008 Politician under Investigation for Paramilitary Ties Appointed as Ambassador to Holland

Jan 2008 Opposition Leaders Express Support for Supreme Court

Oct 2007 Uribe Must Respect Judicial Independence

Sep 2007 Investigation opened against President Uribe's cousin for paramilitary links

Aug 2007 Senator charged with kidnapping and fraud

Aug 2007 Vice President under pressure for paramilitary links

Jan 2007 Human Rights campaigners slam 'tainted' Colombian Foreign Minister



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