Warlord was bribed to make allegations of death plot: Uribe


Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 7

President Alvaro Uribe publicly accused a Supreme Court judge of bribing a jailed warlord into testifying that Uribe plotted to murder another paramilitary chief.

In a short statement on Monday and later in a radio interview, Uribe said auxiliary Judge Ivan Velasquez and another investigator for the chief prosecutor's office offered Jose Orlando Moncada unspecified benefits for himself and his family if he denounced the president.

Supreme Court President Cesar Julio Valencia promptly rejected the accusations, calling them an obstruction of justice in the high court's ongoing investigation into links between the paramilitaries and the government's congressional allies.

"The Supreme Court has not acted improperly," said Valencia, who would not say whether Moncada, better known by his alias Tasmania, had testified against the president. "The high court views the president's statement as a clear obstruction of our work in the so called para-politics scandal."

Uribe said his office received a letter from Moncada in which he said Velasquez pressured him to say Uribe ordered the murder of Alcides de Jesus Durango, a paramilitary chief in the banana-growing Gulf of Uraba region. He also said he had "knowledge" of Moncada's testimony last week.

"I am simply asking prosecutors to investigate these grave accusations," said Uribe, who also denied ever having any contact with Moncada or Durango.

Durango was captured by security forces in June and is presumably in the custody of Colombian authorities. He was one of the government's most wanted fugitives after failing to demobilize under a government peace plan in 2005.

Last week, Valencia said the daughter of a high court investigator had received an anonymous death threat forcing the evacuation of her school in Bogota.

It was the second reported threat this year against members of the court investigating the para-politics scandal.