Both his most loyal faithful and his strongest detractors already have the date noted on the calendar. On October 8, Senator Álvaro Uribe, president of Colombia between 2002 and 2010, will respond formally to the Supreme Court of Justice for a case of witness manipulation. In that postponed appointment that has kept the country in suspense, it will be able to give its explanations to defend itself against the alleged crimes of procedural fraud and bribery.
The call, as is often the case with the controversies surrounding the influential ex-president, has stirred the political environment in a polarized country beforehand. His supporters have come out to warn that any action against Uribe will set Colombia on fire, while his critics celebrate the end of justice delays. Militants and opinion makers from side to side already begin to cover both the radio social gatherings and social networks. Nothing suggests that the tension is going to subside, and on the contrary it is likely to enter the campaign, since Uribe will go to the Court in days of local and regional elections on October 27.
It is the first time that a former president is called for investigation by the Supreme Court, with powers over congressmen. The citation occurs more than a year after the Criminal Court of the high court first convened it, when it opened a formal investigation that has had all kinds of procedural delays. Uribe, the undisputed leader of the Democratic Center, the government party, even announced at the time that he renounced his seat to devote himself to his defense by feeling “morally impeded to be a senator”, although shortly after he backed down. Since then he has a notable influence both in the Legislative and in the Government of Iván Duque, his political godson.
The case dates back to 2012, when also Senator Iván Cepeda tried to demonstrate Uribe's ties with paramilitarism. The ex-plaintiff filed a complaint against Cepeda before the Court for an alleged plot, with false witnesses in Colombian prisons, in order to involve him in criminal activities of the ultra-right groups that fought the guerrillas for decades. But it was until mid-2018 when the case took an unexpected turn, as the high court decided to file the process against Cepeda, of the leftist Democratic Pole, and asked instead to investigate the ex-president for manipulating witnesses such as Juan Guillermo Monsalve, an exparamilitar who He has pointed to justice.
"I have not gone to jails to manipulate witnesses, my lawyers have gone for some information that has come to me," Uribe said Tuesday in an interview with W Radio. "I have publicly requested that Colombians know that they are manipulating witnesses in my against, tell me, "he added. His defense alleges that they only contacted Monsalve after receiving information that he wanted to retract.
Cepeda, on the other hand, explained to the same broadcaster that his actions cannot be equated with those of Uribe and Álvaro Hernán Prada, the other congressman of the Democratic Center involved in the case, since the Supreme Court determined that he has not manipulated witnesses . "In my case there was an investigation of practically six years," he said. "What needs to be examined now, and that is the matter that Senator Uribe and the Prada representative must explain, are their own actions."
After hearing Uribe in court, the magistrates will have ten business days to resolve their legal situation. A decision that can be settled with an insurance measure in a prison center, the prohibition of leaving the country or simply with which to continue facing the process in freedom.
Although its popularity has been cracking, Uribe maintains full force in Colombian politics. After completing his two periods at the Casa de Nariño, he consolidated himself as a great electoral phenomenon. He was the toughest critic of the peace talks with the former FARC guerrilla during the two terms of Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018), and after founding in 2013 the Democratic Center gathered around the party the most religious sectors and conservative His strategy paid off. In the 2018 legislative, he became the most voted senator in history with more than 800,000 votes, and his party reached the largest bench with 19 of the 108 senators.
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