Uribe Lawyer Says Colombia Death Squad Investigation Is Baseless

An investigation into former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for ties to illegal paramilitary groups is “deplorable” and “without any foundation” since the witnesses are prisoners who are lying to try to get reduced jail sentences, Uribe’s lawyer said.

Uribe was informed Jan. 4 of a preliminary investigation into whether he had been involved in the creation of illegal so-called “self-defense” groups in Antioquia province, his lawyer, Jaime Granados, said in a telephone interview today. The two witnesses had been jailed by Uribe’s government and are now being manipulated by congressman Ivan Cepeda, a political opponent of Uribe’s, Granados said.

Granados said that “with the testimony of two liars he sent to jail, they decide to reopen a case without any foundation, motivated by Cepeda, an opponent of his.”

Uribe, who was president from 2002-2010, has weathered a number of attempts to prove his ties to illegal armed groups during his time as governor of Antioquia province from 1995-1997. Since leaving office in 2010, Uribe has become a critic of President Juan Manuel Santos, his former defense minister, attacking his policies in interviews and posts on Twitter.

Cepeda, in a post on his website, described the case as “the most important step Colombian justice has made” in the “parapolitica” scandal, a series of investigations into links between lawmakers and illegal armed groups. Cepeda’s office did not answer a phone call and an e-mail seeking further comment.

One of the witnesses, Pablo Sierra, said that a paramilitary faction had used a farm in Antioquia province belonging to the Uribe family as a base for its operations, according to the post on Cepeda’s site.

In a post on Twitter today, Uribe said the two witnesses are “manipulated prisoners.”

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