PBI-Colombia accompanied CCAJAR lawyer Reynaldo Villalba and the “huge potential for risk and danger” that comes with the proceedings against Álvaro Uribe
Reynaldo Villalba is a lawyer with the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) which is accompanied by the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project.
Currently, he is representing Senator Iván Cepeda in legal proceedings against a former president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez.
Villalba says: “Managing a case of this kind generates a huge potential for risk and danger and we are extremely aware of that.”
PBI-UK has explained: “Villalba’s case rests on allegations of witness tampering and fraud relating to crimes committed during the country’s five-decade civil war.”
“It began in 2012, when the former president accused Cepeda of associating him with paramilitary groups. Cepeda’s investigation was deemed legitimate in 2018, with the court finding Uribe’s allies guilty of witness tampering.”
Their article adds: “Villalba reported forced retraction of statements against the former president and his brother [Santiago Uribe], who is also on trial. Claims that the brothers were linked to the creation of a paramilitary bloc in the Department of Antioquía have led to further pressure on witnesses from third parties.”
PBI-Colombia also accompanies Daniel Prado, a lawyer with the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission, who is representing the family of Camilo Barrientos who was allegedly murdered by the Twelves Apostles, a paramilitary group that the former president’s brother is accused of creating and bankrolling.
Additionally, the PBI-UK article notes: “Franklin Castañeda [of the Committee is Solidarity with Political Prisoners, CSPP] was accused by Alvaro Uribe of bribing witnesses who had given evidence before the Supreme Court of Justice. In February 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the CSPP had acted properly and the CSPP has filed a lawsuit for slander and harassment against Uribe and others.”
This past August, Uribe was placed under house arrest by the Colombian Supreme Court. Deutsche Welle reports: “In a 1,554-page decision, the high court ruled there was ample evidence showing that Uribe had pressured former paramilitaries into retracting damaging statements against him, which amounted to witness tampering.”
But after Uribe resigned his post as a senator, the Supreme Court, which is responsible for handling any legal probes involving elected officials, relinquished control of the case to the chief prosecutor’s office. In October, a municipal judge ruled that Uribe should be released from preventative detention.
While the time frame of the proceedings related to Uribe are unclear, France 24 has reported he “could serve up to eight years in prison if convicted” on the bribery and procedural fraud charges for which he is being investigated.
PBI-Colombia has also noted that court hearings related to Santiago Uribe are “on the verge of concluding” and that final arguments from his defence lawyer “are still pending”.
To watch a 7-minute PBI-Colombia video with Villalba speaking about illegal military intelligence operations against CCAJAR and other repression, please click here.