Statement by former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez

Fecha

Rionegro, Antioquia, March 06, 2016

 

Rionegro, Antioquia, March 6th, 2016 (CD). The following is the transcription of former president and current senator Álvaro Uribe Vélez' statement regarding the unjust preventive imprisonment of his borther, Santiago Uribe Vélez as order by the Attorney General’s Office:

 

“My brother Santiago has been taken into custody on charges of murder and paramilitary activities.

 

(At a private gathering, the Attorney General of Colombia celebrated the arrest and announced that the Colombian public would be shocked by [certain decisions of his] before March 27th, when his term in office ends. President Santos wants the Deputy Attorney General to remain as interim Attorney General in order to continue with the abuses of power.)

 

For several months now, Mr. Santos has been informing his friends in the media and in politics, as well as his interlocutors on the Transition Justice agreement with Farc, that my brother would be taken into custody.

 

1.   Santiago, my brother: Santiago has been a good citizen, son, brother, husband, father, and friend. He miraculously survived a rifle shot by Farc that punctured his lung in 1983 while my father was fighting back a kidnapping attempt and was consequently assassinated by Farc. The ELN destroyed a small farm of Santiago’s in the town of La Unión, Antioquia, during my tenure as Governor of that region only because he was my brother. At that time, what was left of the Guacharacas farm was destroyed and our family was forced to sell it at a significant loss. My brother Santiago's businesses and property are simple, small, and widely known.

 

2.   La Carolina: A few days before I was elected president of Colombia in 2002, a foreign journalist charged my brother with owning La Carolina, a cattle ranch, along with the mafia. My father's business partners in that venture, who would later become Santiago's own partners, were two very well-regarded families from Medellín.

 

3.   Crimes: In the town of Yarumal, a “social cleansing” gang called 'Los Doce Apóstoles' (The Twelve Apostles) was reported to the authorities in 1993. In 1994, Camilo Barrientos, a bus driver who was serving the Yarumal-Campamento route, was murdered. This route was distant from and unrelated to La Carolina. Mr. Barrientos’ name was found on a list of guerrilla collaborators. The individual responsible for his death is police officer Alexander Amaya, whom Mr. Barrientos had had a public confrontation. Mr. Amaya confessed to assassinating his girlfriend as well as another policeman.

 

4.   Why and when is Santiago accused? The above mentioned crimes occurred before I became Governor of Antioquia on January 2nd, 1995. Santiago's name was never mentioned before 1996 as in any way involved with such crimes. It only took for him to be my brother and a minority shareholder in La Carolina for accusations to be leveled against him. I had been long since been the target of false accusations by leftist groups and political opponents. Guerrilla groups had tried to kidnap and assassinate me several times already, alleging as an excuse my involvement in Congress with the passage of labor and social security legislation (particularly Law 50 of 1990 and Law 100 of 1993).

 

5.   Witnesses against Santiago: Santiago has been accused by:

 

5.1.   Alexander de Jesús Amaya Vargas: A police officer. In 1991, he murdered his girlfriend for alleged infidelity. In 1994, he committed a double murder and while escaping, he killed another policeman and a woman accompanying the latter. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was an anonymous witness against Santiago and asked for a 66% reduction of his sentence and a prison transfer in exchange for his testimony against Santiago. He mentioned Santiago as one of the alleged heads of Los Doce Apóstoles, but his description of Santiago is rife with serious errors. The Attorney General’s Office dismissed Amaya’s offer and closed the investigation against Santiago. Upon review, that same Office confirmed its decision to close the investigation and decline prosecution against Santiago. At an interrogation in 2013, Mr. Amaya exculpated Santiago from any responsibility for the crime of Camilo Barrientos. Mr. Amaya eventually admitted that he had no first-hand knowledge of Santiago's actions because he never had any dealings with him. Mr. Amaya's statements against Santiago are mere hearsay, inferences drawn from a meeting Mr. Amaya himself never attended.

 

5.2.   Juan Carlos Meneses: Juan Carlos Meneses is a police officer who made it to the rank of Major. He was the head of Police District No. 7 in Yarumal, Antioquia, from January through May, 1994. He replaced Mr. Pedro Manuel Benavides, who was later promoted to the rank of Colonel. In 1990, a warrant for Meneses’ arrest was issued in reference to the Los Doce Apóstoles case; however, between 2001 and 2002 it was decided that no prosecution could take place due to the statute of limitations. He was removed from Police in 2002 under the discretionary police powers; I was President at the time but was not involved in that decision. Years later, the Director General of the Police told me that drug trafficking was the grounds for his dismissal in 2002. An administrative court ordered the rehiring of Meneses on ground of procedural mistakes at the time of his dismissal and he finally retired, voluntarily, in 2004. He was linked to drug trafficking gangs. The Police requested to have him investigated in order to seize his illegally obtained assets. This police officer was protected by Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, as repeatedly confirmed in Mr. Ildefonso Finol multiple emails to Maduro insisting that Meneses was in possession of very important secret information against Santiago y Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Thereafter, as arranged by Javier Giraldo, a priest, and Daniel Prado Albarracín, an attorney for former Major of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, Mr. Meneses visited Adolfo Pérez Esquivel in Argentina to make accusations against my brother. Furthermore, as arranged by Assistant Judge Iván Velásquez and Mr. Prado Albarracín, Mr. Meneses accused my brother Santiago of being a member of Los Doce Apóstoles before the Supreme Court despite the fact that he had never mentioned Santiago in his testimony from 1999 and 2000. When he amended his testimony to inculpate Santiago, Mr. Meneses repeated Alexander Amaya's statements refuted years before by Mr. Meneses himself. Mr. Meneses was in Venezuela in 2014 when he turned himself in to the authorities amid a media circus promoted by some Colombian news outlets reporting that Meneses was providing vital information against my brother and me—all this in the midst of the 2014 election cycle. Mr. Meneses also lied when he claimed that my administration had offered him contracts in exchange for his silence. On behalf of politicians, drug traffickers, and the government of Venezuela, Mr. Meneses attempted to bribe Mr. Pedro Manuel Benavides, a colonel from the Army Reserve of Colombia, into tarnishing the Uribe Vélez brothers' reputation. His “evidence” against me includes a photograph of him wearing a police uniform while serving as a Chief Officer of the town of Buga, and me. The photograph was taken during a visit of mine to Buga in the course of my first presidential campaign. He invokes the fact that I decorated him when I was Governor, which is true. But such decoration responded to requests and established procedures within the national Politce itself. We never accepted Mr. Meneses' offers, conveyed by members of the police in 2013, to recant his statements against us in exchange for us dropping our charges of slander and false testimony against him. The investigation into his perjury appears to show no progress. Instead, Mr. Meneses is presented as a credible witness as part of this cruel farce.

 

5.3.   Eunicio Alfonso Pineda Luján: Eunicio Alfonso Pineda Luján leveled accusations against Santiago in 2013. Mr. Pineda did so in the Colombian Consulate in Santiago in Chile, as arranged by Mr. Prado Albarracín, alleging security concerns that were never substantiated. The legal record reveals his medical history, which shows that he suffers from schizophrenia. Some of the symptoms therein described are that he hears voices giving him orders, holds conversations with the Devil, and often wishes to attack his own family. He has been committed several times to psychiatric institutions. Mr. Pineda Luján did not appear for a scheduled medical examination in Ecuador. In Spain, he tried in vain to correct the tangled statements he had previously given in Chile, only to bring to light new contradiction. In spite of his mental disorders, the National Institute of Legal Medicine of Colombia has misdiagnosed him with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rather than schizophrenia, contrary to all previous diagnoses. This witness has been financially supported in Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and Europe by Javier Giraldo, a priest who has repeatedly leveled false accusations against my brother and me, and by leftist European NGOs that openly declare their animosity towards me. Mr. Pineda Luján has been accused of perjury, but not one of our complaints against him has been taken up by the Attorney General’s Office.

 

5.4.   Imprisoned paramilitaries: Some paramilitaries, some imprisoned in Colombia, others extradited to the U.S. by my administration, have admitted that they haven’t had any involvement with or knowledge of my brother Santiago. A.k.a. 'Don Mario,' who was imprisoned at my direct behest as President, has said that he once heard the deceased brothers Castaño Gil saying that my brother was connected with paramilitary groups.

 

6.     Prosecutors against my brother: Several prosecutors have been involved in the investigations concerning my brother since 1996. I will just mention three of them:

 

6.1.   The Attorney General of Colombia: The Attorney General of Colombia, Mr. Eduardo Montealegre, has not refrained from showing his politically motivated anger at everything and everyone that is related to me. He is an infuriated politician with the power of imprisoning his adversaries. Without the slightest investigation, he promptly dismisses any allegation against the current Government. Our party, Centro Democrático, has publicly denounced his squandering of public funds, which has further irritated him. He changed the case file number of Santiago’ case in order to redirect the investigation. He directly Santiago's arrest. He invites Human Rights Watch as overseer of this investigation, knowing full well that this organization is not competent for that purpose and that its director has had serious quarrels with me. Mr. Montealegre defends and legitimizes the impunity agreements reached with Farc, and invites Human Rights Watch to be an observer of my brother's case in order to ingratiate himself with an organization that has rigorously criticized those agreements precisely because of the unacceptable impunity they grant. Attorney General Montealegre disregards the legally mandates independence of prosecutors when it serves him. During elections, he used paramilitaries imprisoned by my administration and a magistrate from a Peace and Justice Tribunal, a former guerrilla who apparently knew of the attack on Palace of Justice in 1985 beforehand, in order to harm my and my party’s electoral prospects. At a dinner party, the Attorney General celebrated Santiago’s arrest and, according to La W Radio, announced that the Colombian public would tremble before March 27th, when his term in office comes to an end.

 

6.2.   The Deputy Attorney General of Colombia: The Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Jorge Fernando Perdomo Torres, is trying to score point to become Mr. Montealegre’s successor by persecuting members of my party and my family. Neither he nor the Attorney General of Colombia recused themselves from the investigation after having publicly label us “neo-Nazis” during 2014 election, and having falsely accused us of hiring an alleged hacker—which they did in order to in order to divert attention from the allegations that senior aides to Mr. Santos had taken money from drug cartels in exchange for brokering a deal with the government on their behalf. Nor was the Attorney General’s Office willing to investigate the claims that part of that money was used to pay for outstanding debts from Mr. Santos’ 2010 presidential campaign. Mr. Perdomo, together with the Attorney General of Colombia and the prosecutor in charge of the case, has from the beginning set out to imprison Santiago.

 

6.3.   The latest prosecutor responsible for the case: Carlos Iván Mejía is the latest prosecutor to be put in charge of Santiago’s case. He was assigned to the case by the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General in retaliation for my having made public the aforementioned allegations of cartel money paid to senior advisors to President Santos. Mr. Mejía worked in the Supreme Court of Colombia for Justices who have openly admitted to their animosity towards me and my administration, such as Ms. María del Rosario González, who used to say that I wanted to kill her. Justice González, instead of recusing herself, sentenced one of the ministers of my administration to 17 years in prison without a single evidence of corruption. Carlos Iván Mejía has not asserted his legally mandated autonomy and and instead follows his superiors' orders against my brother, as reported by the agents who actually carried out the arrest. At an meeting with one of the investigators, Mr. Mejia asked him how he should issue the arrest warrant against Santiago. The investigator replied that he had found no evidence whatsoever against my brother, for which reason his investigative report was dismissed.

 

7.     The attorneys and their associates: I will now refer to the attorney and the protectors of guerrillas who are declared adversaries of mine:

 

7.1.   Daniel Prado Albarracín: He served as attorney for the former Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro, who sued my brother in 2005. Mr. Petro tells lies with a straight face, as he did the time he falsely accusing my sons of being contractors providing garbage collection services for the City of Bogotá. Mr. Prado Albarracín has been part of the Colectivo de Abogados, an obvious pro-Farc group of attorneys that has deceived the Colombian State by using false victims. The Collectivo has used human rights discourse as a cover, treating human rights as if they were the privilege of people on the left.

 

7.2.   Javier Giraldo: He is a priest at the service of terrorists. He is a professional slanderer. The Attorney General’s Office is so afraid of him that it has neglected to pursue any investigation into allegations against him. Mr. Giraldo is in charge of financially supporting flase witnesses in Colombia and abroad. The Attorney General’s Office’s abuses go as far as validating the testimony of Mr. Eunicio Pineda Luján's, who has been influenced and sponsored by Mr. Giraldo. A serious judiciary would reject such testimony.

 

7.3.   Leftist European NGOs: A pro-Farc European NGO, which invokes human rights and protection of victims, helps to support false witnesses such as Mr. Pineda Luján.

 

7.4.   Venezuela's dictatorship: This dictatorship specializes in protecting terrorists and false witnesses such as Mr. Rafael García, Meneses, etc.

 

7.5.   Iván Velásquez: Mr. Iván Velásquez is a former assistant judge from the Supreme Court of Colombia and a covert enemy of mine since his days as a university student on account of his left-wing politics. In spite of knowing full well of my sincerity, he devoted himself to offering privileges to convicts in exchange for their testimony against me. He has abused his authority to persecute my brother every time every time he has had the opportunity to do so.

 

7.6.   Pérez Esquivel: He is a Nobel Peace laureate at the service of terrorists who protects false witnesses. The Attorney General’s Office has shown its lack of impartiality in its unwillingness to even open a preliminary inquiry into the formal accusations I have presented against him.

 

8.     Santiago Uribe Vélez: He is now a political prisoner. He has been preventively imprisoned even though he has appeared in court since 1996 every single time he has been summoned. The investigation against him was formally closed and he was cleared of all allegations in 1999; the decision was then confirmed in 2000, only to be revoked without grounds in 2010. He has been subjected to 20 years of persecution and psychological torture for the sole reason of being my brother. The Attorney General’s Office told Blu Radio that it had intercepted my brother’s communications with his attorney, Mr. Jaime Granados; in those conversations, all that my brother said was that he would not leave the country. This wiretap is a clear violation of the constitutionally protected rights of due process and proper legal defense, since it infringes upon attorney-client privilege. Not even the contents of this wiretap helped to prevent an arrest warrant that didn’t fulfill the legal pre-requisites and was thoroughly based upon false testimony. Santiago is now expecting a serious sentence, however overwhelming the evidence of his innocence is.

 

9.     Juan Manuel Santos: Mr. Santos is the architect of this context of persecution. Santos accepts and forces upon the country a policy of impunity for narcoterrorism. In order to do so, he spares no effort to subdue Colombian institutions and coerce dissidents. In clear violation of the Colombian Constitution, Mr. Santos imposed the three nominees for the Office of Comptroller General; he has demanded that the Council of State (Colombia’s Supreme Administrative Court) declare null and void the election of the Inspector General; he has subdued Congress with the use of public funds; he proclaims that he is the “owner of the checkbook”; he demands that Congress pass an Enabling Act with exceptional powers for the President, as well as an ad hoc constitutional amendment process reform aimed at facilitating the legalization of his capitulations to Farc; he has conditioned national funding for local projects upon local officials’ campaigning in favor the plebiscite he is promoting; he has rewarded journalists friendly towards his administration with public contracts, and slyly gets the most independent ones fired. Mr. Santos abuses the Executive’s oversight powers to retaliate against owners of media outlets that assert their impartiality in their journalistic practices. Mr. Santos manipulates the High Courts to get them to approve anything—always with the excuse of the “exceptional circumstances” of his peace talks. Mr. Santos allows Farc to carry out armed political proselytism and as soon as public outrage surfaces, he falsely pretends to be outraged himself. In 2014, he accused me of being a paramilitary; he also said that I extradited paramilitary ringleaders in order to silence them, and promoted a debate in Congress against my reputation—whereas I defended him when a.k.a. ‘Mancuso’ claimed that Mr. Santos sought paramilitary support to orchestrate a coup against President Samper.

 

10.  Oh, Democracy!: For several months now Mr. Santos has told his friends in the media, in politics, and the people involved in the Transitional Justice agreement with Farc, that my brother would be taken into custody. On August 7th, 2014, a Congressman from the Administration’s coalition approached me to apologize for having voter in favor of the debate against my reputation in Congress. “We were instructed to do so by the Office of the President,” he said. “It's all right,” I replied.

 

Álvaro Uribe Vélez

 

Rionegro, March 06, 2016