Colombia's Supreme Court has announced it is to investigate former President Alvaro Uribe following the release of recordings in which he allegedly attempts to influence witnesses.
In a 220-page decision, the court highlighted a complaint filed by Uribe against longtime-rival Ivan Cepeda, who Uribe claims bought witnesses to testify against him regarding his alleged ties to paramilitary groups, El Tiempo reports.
According to court documents, Cepeda visited several jailed United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (UAC) members – including Pablo Hernan Sierra and Juan Guillermo Monsalve – who suggested Uribe was in contact with paramilitary groups in Antioquia, an allegation Uribe has denied.
Sierra's statements, however, were ruled as being "not part of a criminal plan gestated between him and Dr. Cepeda and other people... nor are they evidenced as the product of manipulations based on offers by the congressman."
After wading through hours of recorded phone calls, during which Uribe is heard speaking, the court ultimately ruled that it was Uribe himself who should be investigated "for his alleged participation in the manipulation of witnesses."
At one point in the recordings, Uribe is heard saying: "They are investigating me with you and they have intercepted the phone. So this call is being heard by those bastards."
Uribe has since claimed he is being persecuted by the Supreme Court and has denied allegations that he tried to execute a plot against Cepeda. The former president will appeal the decision, he has announced through his lawyer. "In my case, there is no justice but only persecution," Uribe said.
Earlier this month, a court in Medellin requested judicial authorities investigate Uribe over his alleged involvement in two massacres carried out by paramilitaries 20 years ago while he was governor of Antioquia.
The court made the announcement as judges upheld a 30-year prison sentence for two hitmen with the Self-Defense Units for the 1998 murder of lawyer and human rights activist Jesus Maria Valle.
The ruling concluded there were "enough elements" involving several people, including Uribe, to open an investigation. The meeting at which it was agreed to "silence" the lawyer took place at a mansion owned by Uribe's family.
The meeting is also linked to the 1996 La Granja massacre, which killed four people, and the 1997 El Aro massacre, in which 15 died. Both were carried out in the town of Ituango, under the leadership of ranchmen Jaime Alberto and Francisco Antonio Angulo Osorio.