Álvaro Uribe is formally accused by the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office for crimes of bribery and witness tampering

Álvaro Uribe is formally accused by the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office for crimes of bribery and witness tampering
Álvaro Uribe is formally accused by the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office for crimes of bribery and witness tampering

Image source, Getty Images

Caption, Uribe could face a prison sentence of 6 to 12 years.
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  • Role, BBC News World
  • 1 hour

The former president of Colombia Álvaro Uribe was formally accused of the crimes of alleged bribery, procedural fraud and bribery of witnesses.

Judge Sandra Liliana Heredia found sufficient reasons for Uribe (2002-2010) to be tried for these alleged crimes.

In this way, the former president, who denies all accusations, will face a criminal trial.

It is the first time that the Prosecutor’s Office presents charges against Uribe that are accepted by the Bogotá magistrate, who ruled that from this moment on Uribe “acquires the status of accused.”

If found guilty, the leader of the Democratic Center may face a prison sentence of between 6 and 12 years.

Uribe’s defense had requested the annulment of the process against the former president, something that Heredia “outright rejected” as he considered it “absolutely inadmissible.”

At the same time, the judge accepted as victims of the case the left-wing senator Iván Cepeda and the former attorney generals Jorge Perdomo and Eduardo Montealegre, as well as Deyanira Gómez, former wife of the paramilitary Juan Guillermo Monsalve.

Cepeda’s lawyer, Reinaldo Villalba, celebrated the resolution and assured that “they are decisions that recognize not only the condition of the victims but also the need for victims to have access to justice“.

What is he accused of?

The prosecutor handling the case, Gilberto Villarreal, accused Uribe of having been the “determinator of the successive homogeneous competition of three crimes of bribery in criminal proceedings.”

For Villarreal, this implies that for “his benefit or that of a third party, he delivers or promises a benefit to a person who witnessed a criminal act so that he refrains from coming to testify or so that he fails to tell the truth totally or partially.”

Image source, Getty Images

Caption, The prosecutor handling the case accused Uribe of three crimes of bribery.

He also accused him of “successive homogeneous competition of two seats of procedural fraud”, that is, that “by any fraudulent means he misleads a public servant to obtain a sentence, resolution or administrative act contrary to the law.”

Also for “determinant of the crime of bribery” because he gave or promised “money or other utility to a witness so that he or she is completely or partially untruthful or untruthful in his testimony.”

The previous steps

Already in 2020, Uribe had been deprived of his freedomaccused of procedural fraud and bribery, becoming the first president in the country’s history to have to serve that sanction.

It all started in September 2014, during a debate in Congress, when Senator Iván Cepeda, of the leftist Polo Democrático Alternativo party, accused Uribe of having links with paramilitary groups and drug traffickers.

To support his accusations he presented several testimonies from former paramilitaries.

At that time, Álvaro Uribe was accused of having founded the Metro Block, a branch of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the armed group that bloodthirsty confronted the guerrillas and left thousands of civilians dead.

But the former president responded to Cepeda’s accusation with a lawsuit against him before the Supreme Court of Justice and accused him of searching Colombian prisons for former paramilitaries with the aim of having them serve as false witnesses against him.

The Supreme Court investigated the case for several years, in which both Uribe and Cepeda, as well as all the witnesses involved, testified.

In 2018, the Court dismissed the accusations against Cepeda and, surprisingly, opened a formal investigation against Uribe for witness tamperingwhich entailed the crimes of bribery and procedural fraud.

Two years later, Uribe resigned his senatorial seat to leave the jurisdiction and, in this way, his case would go to ordinary justice. It was then that the Prosecutor’s Office decided that there was no evidence to prosecute him judicially.

But the situation changed this year when Gilberto Villarreal took on the case on January 16. On April 9, the prosecutor stated that, based on the physical evidence and probative elements, there were reasons to accuse Uribe.

Uribe insists that The accusations respond to political interests.

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