Four ex-police generals have been called to testify in an investigation into former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's relationship with his ex-security chief Mauricio Santoyo, now awaiting sentence in the US for facilitating drug trafficking and terrorism.
Colombia's Accusation Commission, a Congressional body charged with investigating allegations of wrongdoing involving former presidents and other high-ranking public officials, announced that retired police generals Luis Ernesto Gilibert, Oscar Naranjo, Teodoro Campo, and Jorge Daniel Castro would be questioned on how Santoyo was assigned his position in the presidential palace and later promoted to general, reported Semana.
Santoyo served as Uribe’s head of security between 2003 and 2006, despite the fact he was already being investigated for criminal links and was banned from public office for five years by Colombia’s Attorney General in 2001 – a decision that was later overturned for procedural reasons. He was promoted to general in 2007.
Commission representative Orlando Clavijo said investigators were prepared to travel to the US to question Santoyo if necessary.
InSight Crime Analysis
According to Ivan Cepeda, the Congressman who has led the accusations against Uribe, Santoyo and five other high-ranking officials were part of a "criminal apparatus" working in Antioquia's police force during the 1990s. Uribe brought Santoyo with him to the Presidential Palace after first being elected in 2002. Since handing himself in to US authorities in July 2012, Santoyo has pleaded guilty to helping paramilitary organization the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) carry out terrorist acts and traffic drugs, in crimes which took place between 2001 and 2008. This overlaps with the time in which Uribe served as president.
Uribe has faced steadily mounting accusations of links to paramilitary organizations and abuses of power since leaving office, so far managing to escape unscathed, even as several key figures in his inner circle have been convicted. Santoyo so far appears to have decided to stay silent rather than play informant. If Colombia's Accusation Commission has the teeth needed to force the ex-police chiefs to testify in the investigation, it is possible that the former top cops could provide crucial, and potentially damning testimony against Uribe.