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Cablegate: Uribe-Supreme Court Tensions Rise Over

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DE RUEHBO #1517/01 1142103
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 232103Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2492
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8157
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0302
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6134
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1573
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6786
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001517

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SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2018
TAGS: KJUS PHUM PREF PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: URIBE-SUPREME COURT TENSIONS RISE OVER
PARA-POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS

Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer
Reason 1.4 (b and d)

SUMMARY
-------
1. (C) Preliminary investigations by the Supreme Court of
Senate President Nancy Patricia Gutierrez and U Party
President Senator Carlos Garcia for alleged paramilitary ties
led President Uribe to call on April 17 for "objectivity" in
the Court. Uribe voiced "total support" for the judiciary,
but urged the Supreme Court not to "open the door to
institutional instability" through investigations based on
weakevidence. Casa de Narino Legal Advisor Edmundo del
Castillo and opposition Liberal Party chief Cesar Gaviria
told us some members of the Court harbor animosity toward the
President and that may be influencing their decisions. The
Prosecutor General (Fiscalia) detained Uribe cousin and
former Senator Mario Uribe on April 23--a move expected to
heighten tensions between the executive and the judiciary.
End Summary

SENATE LEADERS INVESTIGATED
---------------------------
2. (U) The Supreme Court has begun preliminary
investigations of Senate President Nancy Patricia Gutierrez
and U Party President Carlos Garcia for alleged paramilitary
ties. The Fiscalia also arrested former Senator Mario Uribe
(President Uribe's distant cousin and long-time political
ally) on April 23 for reported para links. Mario Uribe
unsuccessfully sought political asylum in the Costa Rican
Embassy prior to his detention. Gutierrez and Garcia voiced
confidence that the investigations against them would be
dropped with no charges filed. Gutierrez said the Court
appeared to be initiating investigations based on rumors or
the testimony of single, unreliable, and politically
motivated witnesses.

URIBE CALLS FOR OBJECTIVITY
---------------------------
3. (U) President Uribe reiterated his "total support" for
the judicial system on April 17, but urged the Supreme Court
to be "objective" in its decisions. He highlighted the
increased resources that the GOC has provided the Court to
carry out the para-political investigations, but called on it
"not to open the door to institutional instability."
Minister for Interior and Justice Carlos Holguin elaborated
on April 20 that the GOC wanted "clarity and certainty" in
the Court's actions, adding that "in some cases the Court had
acted based on weak evidence." Uribe announced after a
meeting with GOC coalition party leaders on April 20, that
the GOC would set up a commission to study possible political
and judicial reform proposals, likely including ideas to
reform systems for investigating members of Congress.

SUPREME COURT "VENDETTA" CLOUDS JUDGMENT
-----------------------------------------
4. (C) Presidential Legal Advisor Castillo told us former
Supreme Court President Cesar Julio Valencia Copete and
Supreme Court Judge Yesid Ramirez have influenced the Court's
judgment when dealing with GOC allies. Valencia is the
subject of a criminal libel complaint filed by Uribe over
their differing accounts of a phone conversation in October,
2007 in which Valencia alleges Uribe inappropriately raised
the case of Mario Uribe. Castillo claimed Valencia's recent
calling of a former paramilitary as a witness in his dispute
with Uribe was irrelevant to the case and designed only to
damage the president. Then Supreme Court President Ramirez
publicly clashed with Uribe two years ago, when he accused
the president of siding with the Constitutional Court in its
dispute with the Supreme Court over jurisdiction. Uribe's
relations with the Supreme Court have been strained since.

5. (C) Castillo said Supreme Court Auxiliary Magistrate Ivan
Velasquez also continued his "vendetta" against Uribe,
offering juridical benefits to former-paramilitaries to
testify against the president. Uribe filed a criminal
complaint with the Fiscalia against Velasquez, accusing him
of illegally pressuring ex-paras to provide false testimony
against the president. Castillo added that jailed former
para leader Diego Murillo's (Don Berna) lawyer recently told
him that Velasquez had offered Berna "benefits" in exchange

for testimony against Uribe. Such accusations are aimed at
undermining Uribe's credibility, Castillo said.

6. (C) Further complicating the picture are rumors that
ex-paramilitary leader Carlos Mario Jimenez ("Macaco") bribed
Supreme Court magistrates, including Ramirez, to elect Fiscal
General Mario Iguaran. GOC members of Congress have also
considered whether an investigation is warranted to examine
ties between some magistrates and Italian businessman Gorgio
Sale, allegedly involved in narcotrafficking and other crimes
with ex-paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso. Several Court
members believe Congressmen implicated in the scandal are
behind the allegations of Court ties to paramilitaries. The
Congressional Commission of Accusations is responsible for
investigations against the magistrates. On April 23,
presidents of the four high courts (Supreme, Constitutional,
Judiciary Council, and State Council) jointly announced their
backing for the Supreme Court and its decisions in the
para-political scandal.

FORMER PRESIDENT GAVIRIA FEARS FURTHER TENSIONS
--------------------------------------------- --
7. (C) Opposition Liberal Party Chief and former-President
Cesar Gaviria told us he is concerned over the rising
tensions between the Supreme Court and Uribe. Gaviria said
the Supreme Court has done a good job overall investigating
para-political scandal. Still, he added that recent
decisions on para investigations and the Macaco extradition
reflected some Court members' "personal animosity" towards
Uribe.Gaviria said evidence in the cases against Uribe
confidants Gutierrez and Mario Uribe appears weak. He
predicted the Court's tensions with the GOC would deepen
since Uribe believes (accurately or not) that some judges are
out to get him and his political allies.

BROWNFIELD

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