Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe will be called to trial on October 6th. The former president himself has confirmed this and explained that his request for the case to be closed has been denied by the Superior Court of Bogota. Uribe will thus become the first president of Colombia to face criminal trial. The charges against him include witness tampering and procedural fraud.
Due to this case, the former president was under house arrest from August to October 2020 and also resigned from his position as senator.
Uribe Anticipates the News Himself
Although the news of his trial will be announced in the afternoon, it was the former head of state who broke the news through his social media.
“They deny me the case closure and order me to go to trial,” Alvaro Uribe wrote on his X account.
In recent days, the trial had been a widely speculated rumor; despite the judicial proceedings against him taking three years since his house arrest for 67 days during the pandemic, the recent attempts by the former president’s lawyers to have the procedings dropped have been in vain. Finally, the court has accepted the initiation of the criminal process.
It is worth noting that the accusation that has led to Uribe appearing before a judge after so many years is for witness tampering. According to the accusation, these witnesses, who had implicated the former president in links to paramilitaries, were allegedly manipulated by Uribe’s inner circle to change their testimonies and deny those links.
Uribe Defends Himself
From Cartagena, on Thursday evening, Álvaro Uribe defended his innocence. He said he received the news “with great concern.” The former president “did not know about bribing witnesses or deceiving the Court. Any information not collected was provided to the Court in good faith for its examination within its competence,” he affirmed, surrounded by his supporters at a public event.
“What they said is that I sent this information to the Court to deceive it. None of the witnesses in this long process have been able to refute my assertion, that I never took the initiative to go after prisoners. I simply asked for the information that reached me that people like Senator Cepeda were seeking them out and offering rewards for them to falsely accuse me,” added the former head of state.
Uribe alleged that there are political interests behind the decision. “Despite all the witnesses saying the same thing, I am being taken to trial. I hoped that this unanimity among the witnesses on the issue would lead to a ruling in my favor, which has not happened. But it is also very important to say that the process started with flaws, it was a process that began in the criminal division of the court and seemed like a vendetta against me due to some differences I had with the court during my presidential term,” the former president concluded.
Solidarity from His Party Colleagues
Expressions of solidarity from his political colleagues in the Democratic Center party have not been delayed. From former President Iván Duque (2018-2022), to the most recognized senators and representatives of his organization, they have shown their solidarity and commitment to the controversial former president.
“Alvaro Uribe has fought for our country all his life. It is regrettable that a request by the prosecutor’s office for closure has not proceeded after a thorough investigation process where his innocence stood out. Solidarity with him and his family. Honor and truth will prevail,” former President Duque wrote on his social media.
Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal, one of the sharpest voices against the current government and a staunch defender of former President Uribe, has linked the trial summons to the electoral period (it should be noted that local and regional elections are scheduled for the 29th of this month in Colombia). “A deplorable coincidence to call former President Alvaro Uribe to trial, one month before the elections,” the senator wrote.
Another frequent political spokesperson for the Democratic Center, Miguel Uribe, has also expressed his support for the role and legacy of the former president. Miguel Uribe also accused President Petro’s government of organizing a defamation campaign against the leader of his party.
“President Alvaro Uribe has dedicated his entire life to working for our country, always within the bounds of the law….. Those who are governing today devised a strategy of defamation and slander against President Uribe, but his innocence and honorability have always prevailed. This will be the case again……” Miguel Uribe stated.
Those Celebrating the Trial
There have also been expressions celebrating that, after so much time, justice sheds light on such a dark case, especially after the former president emerged unscathed from various attempts at prosecution for controversial behaviors before, during, and after his presidency.
Hundreds of anonymous individuals have written celebratory messages on social media regarding the news, which has not yet been officially confirmed. Among public figures, former senator and current candidate for the mayoralty of Bogotá for the ruling Historic Pact, Gustavo Bolívar, was among the first to react.
Bolívar, recalling the 6,402 cases of false positives that the justice system has identified, wrote on his social media: “Uribe to trial. 6,402 reasons to celebrate that they shouldn’t sing victory yet, Santiago Uribe, his brother, has been on trial for two years and justice has the verdict stalled. But it’s something. A glimmer of hope for the truth to shine.”