Justice has said, for the second time, that it is not possible to archive the legal case against former President Álvaro Uribe for alleged witness tampering. The specific crimes for which the former president has been accused are procedural fraud and bribery, in a legal case that has been in court for more than a decade, but which has become a true legal labyrinth.
The judicial decision of this Tuesday was in the hands of the judge 41 of criminal knowledge of Bogotá, Laura Barrera, who analyzed the arguments of the Prosecutor’s Office, an institution that has argued in favor of closing the investigation against Uribe. It is the second time that the Prosecutor’s Office has made this request, and the second time that it has been rejected by the courts: in April 2022, another judge, Carmen Ortiz, ruled in favor of the victims of the case, saying that the investigation could not be closed and that the Prosecutor’s Office had dismissed the evidence against the former president. The new judge said something similar: that there is enough evidence for the Prosecutor’s Office to continue investigating Uribe or take him to a criminal trial. She explained that it should only be precluded in the event that the evidence leaves absolutely no doubt about the innocence of the former president. And the doubts remain, so the case must also stand. “There are probative elements that allow us to affirm with probability that the crime of bribery did exist and that it is not distorted that Álvaro Uribe Vélez participated,” said Barrera.
The case against Álvaro Uribe began in 2018, when he was a senator, and the Supreme Court turned around a criminal lawsuit that he had filed against left-wing senator Iván Cepeda for witness tampering—the latter had insisted that the former president had ties with the ex-paramilitaries, or AUC, particularly with the Metro Block, and he had several testimonies to prove it. The Court, when investigating the case, considered that the one who could be falsifying information was the former president: it found evidence that pointed to the manipulation of witnesses by Uribe to muddy Cepeda. In August 2020, the Court even considered that the former president had to be detained while the investigation progressed, but Uribe, then a senator, resigned from the Legislature so that the investigation would not be in the hands of the high court but would go to the Prosecutor’s Office—he had an allied attorney general , and perhaps a better climate for her case to be filed.
The star witness in this case has been Juan Monsalve, a former paramilitary in the Metro Block. Monsalve was visited by one of the former president’s lawyers, Diego Cadena, also investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office for the same case. Monsalve has said that he received pressure from the latter and from another former paramilitary, known by his alias Caliche, to change his testimony about the former president’s closeness to paramilitary groups. These pressures are obviously illegal.
Monsalve, however, is not the only witness against Uribe. Another ex-paramilitary, Carlos Enrique Vélez or alias Víctor, has also said that Cadena offered him millions of pesos in exchange for testifying against Senator Cepeda. The Prosecutor’s Office has tried in different ways to distort these testimonies, either by saying that they were not collected properly or that they contradict each other, but the court considers that they continue to be credible and valid, and it will be a judicial process that will thoroughly evaluate them to determine whether the former president is guilty or not.
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