Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said on Tuesday the Supreme Court had ordered his detention amid an investigation into alleged witness tampering and fraud.
Uribe, a mentor of President Ivan Duque who now serves as a senator, has repeatedly declared his innocence and questioned the court’s independence.
The court has not yet released its ruling and it was unclear whether Uribe, a divisive political figure, would be held under house arrest or possibly behind bars.
“The privation of my liberty causes me profound sadness for my wife, for my family, and for Colombians who still believe that I have done something good for the country,” Uribe wrote on Twitter.
The Supreme Court ruling would mark the first ever in Colombia ordering the detention of a former president. Duque has repeatedly backed Uribe and said he should be allowed to defend himself while free.
The case stems from a long-running feud between the right-wing Uribe and leftist Senator Ivan Cepeda. In 2012, Uribe accused Cepeda of orchestrating a plot to tie him to right-wing paramilitary groups.
But in 2018 the court said Cepeda had collected information from former fighters as part of his work and had not paid or pressured former paramilitaries. Instead it was Uribe who was at fault, the court said, adding that his allies had undertaken new witness tampering efforts even after its original ruling.
Uribe and lawmaker Alvaro Hernan Prada face prison terms of up to 12 years. That would put Uribe in the ranks of other former Latin American presidents, including Brazil’s Lula da Silva and Peru’s Alberto Fujimori, who have served time in confinement. Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, who lives in exile in Belgium, also faces a prison sentence.
Uribe is best known for mounting an aggressive offensive against Marxist guerrillas during his 2002 to 2010 tenure. He and his family have long been accused of paramilitary links. His brother Santiago is currently facing a murder charge for his paramilitary activities.
Credit: US News