U.S. Representative Francis Rooney (R-FL), the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, requested that the Organization of American States (OAS) “closely monitor” the judicial case in Colombia against former president Álvaro Uribe, citing “serious questions” over the application of due process in the case.
In a letter to OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, dated October 13, Rooney detailed concerns over public reports of judicial irregularities leading up to Uribe’s arrest without charge on August 4. Rooney cited a falsified warrant to wiretap Uribe’s phone, the reported transfer of illegally obtained evidence to his case file in violation of the Colombian constitution, and contradictions in sworn testimony of star witness Juan Guillermo Monsalve, among his concerns that should be reviewed.
“The failure to guarantee compliance with due process, especially in highly politicized investigations, can deteriorate the frameworks and institutions of democracy in our hemisphere,” Rooney wrote to Almagro. “When it is directed against a figure such as Álvaro Uribe, with his legacy of defending the rule of law in Colombia against unrelenting attacks upon it, it is especially dangerous for holding firm to our regional consensus on the democratic principles at the heart of the OAS Charter and the values we all share.”
Rooney noted that Uribe’s arrest “gained the attention of the world to this case, including my own and several of my colleagues in the United States Congress.” The senior House Republican on Western Hemisphere affairs characterized Uribe as “a fearless defender of the rule of law in his country and a crucial friend to all OAS member states dedicated to preserving democracy in the face of armed insurgency and transnational criminal organizations like those faced during his term as President of Colombia from 2002 to 2010.”
While Rooney told Almagro he was “pleased” that Uribe was recently released from detention, he urged the OAS “to closely monitor the Uribe case, and review the basic due process guarantees that applied to the Uribe investigation and arrest.”
The Uribe case is rooted in politically motivated accusations by Senator Iván Cepeda, the principal ally of the FARC in Colombia. Cepeda was instrumental in aiding fugitive FARC guerrilla Jesus Santrich to avoid extradition to the United States where he is under indictment for conspiracy in drug trafficking and narco-terrorism. In parallel, Cepeda has waged a relentless campaign to falsely accuse Uribe of criminal wrongdoing without a shred of material evidence, launching numerous sham legal cases like the one which led to his arrest without charge on August 4, 2020.