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Viewing cable 06BOGOTA10596, ARRESTS OF PUBLIC FIGURES WITH ALLEGED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BOGOTA10596 2006-11-17 21:09 2011-02-20 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0029
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0596/01 3212129
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 172129Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0852
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7277
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 8438
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 4494
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 9755
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5157
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3774
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHOND/DIRONDCP WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 010596 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2016 
TAGS: KJUS PGOV PINR PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: ARRESTS OF PUBLIC FIGURES WITH ALLEGED 
PARAMILITARY TIES; URIBE CALLS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTION 
AND HARSH PUNISHMENT 
 
REF: A. A) BOGOTA 8108 
     B. B) BOGOTA 9795 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood. 
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C) On November 17, President Uribe strongly supported 
the recent law enforcement actions against several Colombian 
Congressmen for alleged paramilitary ties, and said the State 
had to proceed with "more severity" when public figures 
violated the law.  The Supreme Court of Justice ordered the 
arrest on November 9 of three members of Congress from Sucre 
Department for allegedly organizing paramilitary groups in 
the region and, in one case, for instigating a massacre that 
took 15 lives.  Two of the three have turned themselves in; 
one remains at large.  We understand the Court has asked the 
Congress to confirm whether an additional 90 individuals are 
or have been members of Congress, apparently because those 
individuals are also the subject of a Court investigation. 
End summary. 
 
----------------------------------------- 
Uribe Urges Strict Application of the Law 
----------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) At a November 17 event commemorating the 120th 
anniversary of the Supreme Court, President Uribe strongly 
supported recent Supreme Court actions against Colombian 
Congressmen allegedly involved with paramilitaries, murder 
and corruption, and said the State had to proceed with "more 
severity" when public figures were accused of violating the 
law.  He stressed "where there are congressmen, political 
leaders or Executive officials involved in crime, they must 
go to jail."  Uribe said the GOC supported the Justice 
system's ongoing investigations "without hesitation," because 
justice is a "fundamental element" of his democratic security 
policy.  He concluded that Colombia needed to be free of 
guerrilla and paramilitary influence, and democratic 
institutions must govern. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Court Issues Arrest Warrants, More Expected 
------------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (U) On November 9, the Supreme Court of Justice issued 
arrest warrants for three members of Congress from Sucre 
Department who are accused of having ties with paramilitary 
groups.  The three -- Senator Alvaro Garcia, Senator Jairo 
Merlano, and Representative Erik Morris -- are charged with 
aggravated conspiracy to commit criminal activity.  Garcia is 
also charged with aggravated homicide and embezzlement. 
Morris and Garcia have surrendered to authorities, but 
Merlano remains at large.  The Court based its decision in 
part on information the Fiscalia (Prosecutor General's 
office) provided to it. 
 
4.  (U) The Court is investigating Garcia and Morris for 
organizing, arming, and financing paramilitaries in Sucre 
since 1997.  Garcia is also being questioned about his 
participation in the Macayepo massacre on October 16, 2000, 
in which 15 people died, and in the murder of Georgina 
Marvaez on November 19, 1997.  He is also suspected of 
embezzling COP 17 million (USD 8 million) from a 1998 public 
works in Sucre Municipality.  Garcia allegedly used the money 
to finance a paramilitary group.  Merlano was reportedly 
involved with the Heroes of the Montes de Maria paramilitary 
group. 
 
5.  (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us the Supreme Court's Criminal Chamber asked 
Congress on November 16 to certify whether 80 individuals are 
or were members of Congress to determine if they are subject 
 
 
to the Court's jurisdiction over sitting members.  House 
Secretary General Angelino Lizcano told us the number was 
 
SIPDIS 
closer to 90.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said the Supreme 
Court would issue arrest warrants for possibly 12 additional 
members of Congress for alleged paramilitary ties.  She said 
Zulema Jattin from the U Party, Dieb Maloof from Colombia 
Viva, and David Char from Cambio Radical were expected to be 
on the list of 12. 
 
6.  (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said an arrest warrant has been issued for 
Sergio Araujo, brother of Foreign Minister Maria Consuelo 
Araujo, for money laundering.  Sergio Araujo has also been 
linked with gun-running for the AUC and to Jorge 40.  Senator 
Alvaro Araujo, also a brother of the Foreign Minister, 
confirmed press reports that he had said at a private meeting 
at Casa Narino that "if they come for me, they had better 
come for Conchi (the Foreign Minister), the president, and 
the procurador (Inspector General Edgardo Maya, formerly 
married to an Araujo)."  He admitted attending meetings at 
which Jorge 40 was present prior to his demobilization, but 
denied being associated with paramilitary political projects. 
 Araujo said his comments were not a threat, but were 
intended to warn the Uribe administration about the political 
fallout from arrests and investigations. 
 
-------------------------- 
Other GOC Institutions Act 
-------------------------- 
 
7.  (C) The Fiscalia recently opened cases against prominent 
former public figures and businessmen for alleged 
paramilitary ties.  The Fiscalia arrested former 
Congresswoman from Sucre, Muriel Benito, for failure to 
appear for questioning about her alleged links to 
paramilitary groups.  The Supreme Court asked the Fiscalia to 
investigate five individual for alleged ties to 
paramilitaries, including former Sucre governor and Colombian 
Ambassador to Chile Salvador Arana, Sucre assembly deputy 
Angel Daniel Villarreal, businessman Jose Joaquin Garcia, 
cattle rancher Miguel Nule, and engineering contractor 
Octavio Otero.  The Inspector General's office (Procuraduria) 
announced it would investigate former Administrative 
Department of Security (DAS ) FBI equivalent) Director Jorge 
Noguera for several alleged crimes, including collaboration 
with paramilitaries. 
 
-------- 
Why Now? 
-------- 
 
8.  (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said Uribe's policy of disarming and demobilizing the 
paramilitaries had undermined the groups' military capacity 
and opened new spaces for public pressure to uncover the 
truth about paramilitary activities.  XXXXXXXXXXXX told 
us the Sucre cases have come to light because the murder of 
Sucre paramilitary leader Rodrigo Mercado (AKA "Cadena") by 
other paramilitary leaders who feared Mercado would confess 
para crimes had created room for people to speak out.  In 
addition, XXXXXXXXXXXX said the departures of former Supreme Court 
President Carlos Isaac Nader, who had blocked previous 
investigations to protect Sucre politicians, had also helped. 
 Lastly, XXXXXXXXXXXX said stories about Jorge 40's computer 
sparked prosecutor interest in pursuing cases. 
 
9.  (U)  See septel for the political implications of the 
congressional investigations. 
WOOD 

=======================CABLE ENDS============================