Bogotá, Colombia

Alvaro Uribe became on Friday Colombia’s first ex-president  to be hauled before a court, charged with witness tampering.Uribe, 71, took part in a virtual first day of hearings from his home in Antioquia in the country’s northwest, and insisted he was the victim of a political plot.

The charges arise from an investigation into Uribe’s alleged ties to right-wing paramilitary squads involved in the country’s decades of armed conflict.

He has to answer to claims that he bribed witnesses to deny his involvement with these groups, which had formed to combat leftist guerrilla groups but became involved in drug trafficking and atrocities.

Uribe, who was president between 2002 and 2010, is still considered one of Colombia’s most influential rightwing politicians.

He faces a prison term of up to 12 years in the tampering case.

The matter dates to 2012, when Uribe, then a senator, filed a complaint against leftist senator Ivan Cepeda, whom he accused of hatching a plot to falsely link him to paramilitary groups.

But the Supreme Court decided against investigating Cepeda, instead turning its sights on Uribe.

The investigation against Uribe began in 2018 and has had numerous twists and turns, with several attorneys general seeking to close the case.

It has gained new impetus under Attorney General Luz Camargo, who took over in March, and was chosen by Colombia’s first-ever leftist President Gustavo Petro — historically a foe of Uribe.

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© Agence France-Presse

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