Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, of the ruling Democratic Center party, has been called to appear before the supreme court on September 3 in the case against him for bribery and procedural fraud linked to witness tampering.
The announcement was made Monday after the court halted the process against Uribe and legislator Alvaro Prada until it resolves Uribe’s legal request to have three justices recuse themselves.
Jaime Granados, Uribe’s lawyer, explained the justices “have affected (Uribe’s) right to defense” by leaking information to national media. “It is bizarre that the justice would let Semana (local news media) know they were going to question me,” Uribe said during a press conference.
Uribe's defense is also alleging bias, saying Sandra Yepez, assistant justice, is a disciple of justice Ivan Velasquez, who led the investigations on parapolitics and who appears in the list of the 31 witnesses cited by the court for this case.
According to Uribe, Velasquez has been his detractor since the university.
Citing this Uribe said he would elevate a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to demand judicial guarantees.
Court evidence against Uribe, who received the most votes in the country Senate elections, includes testimony, audios of intercepted calls, voice messages, and Uribe's lawyer visiting a jail where the key witness against him, Juan Monsalve, was being held.
The process in the supreme court began in February following an investigation against senator Ivan Cepeda, who was accused by Uribe of fabricating fake witnesses against him and his brother Santiago to link them with paramilitary groups in Antioquia.
Uribe’s formal accusation was filed after a Senate debate on political control in 2014, during which senator Cepeda presented the statements of paramilitary bosses Pablo Sierra and Juan Monsalve who said the Uribe brothers were behind the creation of the Metro bloc of the paramilitary group United Self-Defenders of Colombia, or AUC.
The court found there was no evidence of Cepeda tampering witnesses; instead, it found indications that the former president had attempted to get the former paramilitary members, who spoke with Cepeda, to change their original statements.
Colombia’s highest court has found material evidence that Uribe gave instructions to pressure Monsalve to recant his statements linking Uribe to paramilitary groups in Antioquia, where Uribe served as governor between 1995 and 1997.
On Sept. 3 Uribe will be able to present his version of the facts under investigation. However, before then, the Senate could approve Uribe’s resignation which could send the case to the general attorney’s office, leaving the supreme court with jurisdiction in the case.
In a recent interview with Semana, former presidential candidate and senator Gustavo Petro said “I am absolutely convinced that Uribe’s exit from the Senate has the goal of preventing the supreme court from investigating. It is a method to evade justice that stems from the analysis that the justices and prosecutors of lesser hierarchy than those of the supreme court are more malleable, more impressionable, more buyable.”