Santiago Uribe Vélez, brother of ex-president and reformer Álvaro Uribe, has been called to trial where he will face charges of aggravated criminal conspiracy and aggravated murder for his alleged role in the promotion and creation of the paramilitary group “Los 12 Apóstoles” in Yarumal, Antioquia.
This decision was made by the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, María Paulina Riveros. Santiago Uribe Vélez has been under arrest in a military garrison for more than one year and has been deemed a flight risk.
Witnesses have alleged that Uribe Vélez ordered the execution of Camilo Barrientos, a bus driver who died on February 25th, 1994 in Antioquia.
The decision prompted many conservatives in Colombia to cry foul, claiming that the trial amounts to nothing more than a political witch hunt, as liberals have continued to increase the pressure on former members of Álvaro Uribe’s inner circle.
Álvaro Uribe, now senator, stated that his brother is the victim of an unfounded prosecution that began with previous Attorney General, Luis Eduardo Montealegre. His supporters claim that all evidence in the trial is circumstantial, and holding a defendant without trial for more than a year is a fundamental violation of his human rights.
Taking a page from U.S. President Donald Trump, Senator Uribe took to twitter (@AlvaroUribeVel) to express his outrage, and indicated that he would accompany his brother in court. He also intimated that he would soon present evidence that proves the former attorney general was motivated by politics and that no crimes were committed.
Controversies Surround Álvaro Uribe
Álvaro Uribe, a vocal opponent of the country’s recent treaty with the FARC terrorist group, has been a lightning rod for controversy since completing his term as Colombia’s president in 2010.
Uribe served two terms as president of Colombia from 2002 through 2010. When he assumed the presidency in 2002, Colombia was on the verge of being a failed state, according to Maria Victoria Llorente of the think tank Fundación Ideas para La Paz.
“There was only one item on the political agenda and that was the rebels and security. He was the man for the job,” Llorente said.
Under his presidency, and with the support of President George W. Bush of the United States, the FARC terrorist group was decimated and forced to retreat from cities and towns into remote jungle areas of the country. In 2002, the FARC numbered up to 20,000 and their cousins in the National Liberation army (ELN) some 3,500. As of 2011, the FARC had an estimated 8,000 fighters and the ELN less than 1,500.
Uribe left his post as president with approval ratings that exceeded 75%. However in the time since, he and his family have been under constant attack from both Colombia’s leftwing media and left-of-center political parties.