Colombia prosecutor seeks probe into former president and 1997 massacre. Alvaro Uribe was governor of Antioquia, where victims of 1997 paramilitary attack that left 15 people dead in El Aro claim government helicopter was present
The prosecutor’s office asked the supreme court to look into whether Uribe was somehow connected to the attack that left 15 peasants dead in the hamlet of El Aro, in the state of Antioquia, near Medellin.
At the time, victims said armed men burned homes, raped women and killed farmers indiscriminately during the two-day rampage. They also said they saw a government helicopter circling overhead as the carnage took place.
During the Samper administration (1994-1998) the level of armed conflict in Colombia intensified. The FARC demonstrated increasing military prowess and territorial control between 1995 and 1997. These displays of military capacity have led some to characterize the current guerrilla forces as:
“armed groups with an enormous capacity to leverage economic resources, to control some territory, and to maintain a superficial presence in others. Their national banners are invisible or not credible, but their local, armed patronage and their ability to take advantage of rural youth unemployment keeps them afloat and even enables them to establish pockets of legitimacy and support in many regions of the country.” (5)
Frances Martel reports (emphasis added),
The investigation allegedly follows up on testimony given to an American court by Diego Fernando Murillo, known as “Don Berna,” linking Uribe to the attack. Don Berna was the head of the defunct paramilitary and narcotrafficking group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), and is currently in prison in the United States for drug-related offenses.
. . .
Uribe has dismissed the accusations as “slander” and nothing more. Others, however, have accused the Colombian government of trying to remove Uribe from his position of power in the legislature in order to prevent him from making a deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a Marxist terror group, impossible.Speaking to Colombia’s RCN Radio, the nation’s Inspector General, Alejandro Ordoñez,accused the government of persecuting Uribe as part of a secret deal brokered with the FARC. “The FARC has always issued as a condition [of any deal] judicial proceedings against ex-President Uribe,” he stated, “that this announcement has been made can be explained as [the government] complying and has a direct relationship with these demands by the FARC.”
“Never have drug lords achieved so much in this country, even under Pablo Escobar,”Ordoñez lamented.
Uribe is widely considered the most successful actor against the FARC in its history.
Uribe released a statement asking why is the prosecutor (who he had accused of mismanagement of funds) accepting the word of Don Berna (who Uribe extradited to the U.S.), but not the testimony of one of the participants, currently serving time for the massacre, who verified that Uribe was never involved.
“Unserious Prosecutor who repeats as truth what was told to him by Don Berna, shady criminal who I extradited.”
Poco serio el Fiscal que repite como verdad lo que le dijo Don Berna, tenebroso criminal a quien extradité
— Álvaro Uribe Vélez (@AlvaroUribeVel) October 7, 2015