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Cablegate: President Uribe: Questions Arise with Supreme

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P 121425Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9466
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7797
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RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ OCT 8967
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
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UNCLAS BOGOTA 007359

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SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREF PREL PTER
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT URIBE: QUESTIONS ARISE WITH SUPREME
COURT OVER PARAMILITARY ALLEGATIONS

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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) On October 8, President Uribe released a statement
saying he had received a letter from a jailed paramilitary
accusing Supreme Court Magistrate Ivan Velasquez of offering
the paramilitary legal benefits to implicate Uribe in a plot
to murder a jailed paramilitary leader. Uribe called
Velasquez to discuss the case and later asked the Prosecutor
General to investigate. The Supreme Court issued a statement
supporting Velasquez--who is a lead investigator in the
para-political scandal--and accusing Uribe of obstructing the
para-political investigations. Uribe has supported the
Court's investigations--including increasing its
investigative capacity--but will continue to criticize it
when he believes it is wrong. END SUMMARY.

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URIBE'S STATEMENT
-----------------
2. (SBU) On October 8, President Uribe released a statement
saying he had received a letter from jailed paramilitary Jose
Orlando Moncada (a.k.a. "Tasmania") accusing Supreme Court
Magistrate Ivan Velasquez of offering him legal benefits to
implicate Uribe in a plot to murder jailed paramilitary
Alcides de Jesus Durango (a.k.a. "Rene.") In the statement,
Uribe asked the Prosecutor General (Fiscalia) to investigate
the allegations. Uribe said "all Colombians are subject to
investigation, starting with the President of the Republic."
He added that it is imperative to determine whether he is a
killer, Tasmania is a liar, or a Supreme Court official is
attempting to falsely incriminate him.

3. (SBU) The next day, Uribe released the text of the letter
and admitted to calling Velasquez to inquire about the
matter. Uribe publicly claimed the Supreme Court may be
plotting against him, possibly in retaliation for Uribe's
numerous criticisms of the Court. Uribe and the Supreme
Court sparred in July over a court ruling impacting the legal
status of demobilized paramilitaries.

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THE SUPREME COURT'S RESPONSE
----------------------------
4. (SBU) Supreme Court President Cesar Julio Valencia issued
a statement supporting Velasquez and accusing President Uribe
of obstructing the court's investigations. Velasquez
appeared on television admitting that he visited "Tasmania"
in Itagui prison, and claiming the visit was motivated by the
belief that "Tasmania" might have valuable information
relating to the "para-political" investigations.

5. (SBU) Velasquez leads the unit investigating the
para-political scandal. So far, the Court has jailed 14
members of congress for para-ties (reftel). Another 22 are
under investigation, including the president's cousin and
former Senator, Mario Uribe. Velasquez also claimed he is
under Administrative Department of Security (DAS)
surveillance, and that the DAS is investigating his exchanges
with "Tasmania." DAS Director Maria del Pilar Hurtado
denied these claims, but said the DAS would investigate to
determine if any DAS personnel were conducting such
activities on their own.

6. (SBU) Court investigators in the para-scandal claimed they
received threats. In early October, Supreme Court President
Valencia said the daughter of an investigator received an
anonymous death threat forcing the evacuation of her school
in Bogota. It was the second reported threat this year
against those involved with "para-political" investigations.

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REACTION
--------
7. (SBU) The media, still critical of Uribe's comments
regarding Gonzalo Guillen (correspondent for Miami's El Nuevo
Herald, who left Colombia after Uribe accused him of helping
former Pablo Escobar girlfriend Virgina Vallejo write "Loving
Pablo, Hating Escobar,"), questioned Uribe's tactics in
calling Velasquez, but defended the president's right to seek

an investigation of the allegations. Human Rights Watch
denounced President Uribe's actions as a "threat to judicial
independence." Uribe has publicly supported the Court's
para-political investigations, and provided the court the
additional resources needed to set up its own investigative
unit. Still, as evidenced by his remarks, he reserves the
right to publicly criticize the court, as well as other
institutions, when he believes they are wrong.

Brownfield

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