Colombia: “Former President of Congress Arrested in Parapolitics Charge”

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Semana on accusations against Senator Uribe Escobar, first cousin of President Uribe. The magazine’s Daniel Coronell had a heated exchange with President Uribe on the affair, on Radio Caracol, in which Uribe said, “You tell lies. You have no journalistic scruples, you have hate, deceit. You, you have disgracefully made insinuations against me regarding paramilitarism, go and find me one single charge against me.”

“This is a joke. They say I killed a man who is not dead. This is a soap opera badly written by ill-prepared witnesses,” the Senator said.

Capturado Luis Humberto Gómez Gallo, ex presidente del Congreso, por ‘parapolítica’: “Gallo, former president of the Senate, arrested for ‘parapolitics.'”

EL TIEMPO reports.

See also

Gómez Gallo is a member of the Colombian Conservative Party and the Uribe coalition.

Agentes del CTI de la Fiscalía lo detuvieron en la calle 77 con carrera 10, norte de Bogotá. También fue capturado el representante por Tolima Gonzalo García Angarita.

Agents of the Fiscalía captured the man on the corner of 77th Street and Highway 10, northern Bogotá. Also arrested was Tolima congressmember Gonzalo García Angarita.

La orden de captura contra Gómez Gallo fue dictada hacia las 6 de la tarde de ayer, según confirmó el presidente de la Sala Penal de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, magistrado Alfredo Gómez Quintero.

The arrest warrant was issued yesterday at 6 pm, according to Justice Gómez Quintero of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division.

El congresista es investigado por concierto para delinquir. En su contra pesan los testimonios de varios ex ‘paras’, entre ellos José Wilton Bedoya Rayo, alias ‘Moisés’, del bloque Tolima de las Auc.

The congressman is under investigation for criminal conspiracy. Weighing against him isthe testimony of various former “paras,” among them José Wilton Bedoya Rayo, alias ‘Moisés’, of the Tolima Bloc of the AUC (Colombian Self-Defense forces.)

The Tolima group handed over accounting ledgers showing receipts from 4,000 business owners, shop owners, and politicians. They said they were extorted, after inviting the AUC in to take care of similar extortion by guerrilla groups. (Source: Colombian Air Force.)

García, por su parte, elegido congresista en marzo del 2006, es señalado por ex ‘paras’ de hacer presuntos aportes económicos a los paramilitares con recursos del presupuesto del municipio cuando era alcalde de Valle de San Juan, en el periodo 2001-2003.

García, who was elected to Congress in March 2006, is pointed to by ex-“paras” of having provided financial support to paramilitaries from the municipal budget when he was mayor of Valle de San Juan from 2001 to 2003.

Las pruebas contra Gómez Gallo

The evidence against Gómez Gallo

El pasado mes de octubre, ‘Moisés’ le dijo a magistrados de la Corte que el senador participó en un plan para asesinar al representante a la Cámara Pompilio de Jesús Avendaño, cuando corría el año 2001.

Last October, “Moses” told the Court that the senator was part of a plan to assassinate congressman Pompilio de Jesús Avendaño in 2001.

El ex ‘para’ dijo que Gómez Gallo habría pagado 300 millones de pesos para que los paramilitares mataran a Avendaño.

The former para said Gómez Gallo had paid 300 million pesos for paramilitariesto kill Avendaño.

Divide by about 2,000 for $.

Según ‘Moisés’, entre junio y julio del 2001, el congresista se habría reunido en tres ocasiones con el comandante ‘Elías’ para solicitar la muerte de Avendaño, al parecer por problemas pasionales.

Moses said that between June and July 2001, the congressman met on three occasions with Commander Elias to request the death of Avendaño, apparently over affairs of the heart.

What, the guy stole his girlfriend?

La primera reunión habría sido en el hotel Tocarema, de Girardot. La segunda en la finca La Chiguagua, en la vereda Tomín del municipio de San Luis (Tolima) y la tercera en un restaurante del centro de Ibagué, en la que además también habría participado Eduardo Restrepo, el ‘Socio’.

The first meeting allegedly took place in the Tocarema Hotel in Girardot. The second, at the La Chiguagua ranch, in the township of San Luis in Tolima, and the third at a restaurant in downtown Ibagué, attended as well the Eduardo Restrepo, “The Partner.”

El senador Gómez Gallo negó vínculos con las autodefensas y advirtió que se trataba de un montaje organizado por una autoridad judicial del departamento.

Gómez Gallo denied ties to the AUC and said this was a frame-up organized by a provincial judge.

“Eso es un chiste. Me señalan de matar a un vivo. Eso es un novelón mal echado por unos testigos mal preparados”, afirmó el Senador.

“This is a joke. They say I killed a man who is not dead. This is a soap opera badly written by ill-prepared witnesses,” the Senator said.

“This is a soap opera” seems to be a talking point you hear with increasing frequency in such situations.

Agregó que tras de los señalamientos están sus opositores políticos. “Ante la incapacidad de derrotarme en las urnas, me quieren liquidar moralmente”, dijo el congresista.

He added that political opponents of his are behind the charges. “They could not defeat me at the polls, so they want to liquidate me morally,” he said.

The President of the Brazilian Senate, on a media-driven campaign to unseat him: “I am the victim of a moral death-squad.”

The best-practice answer here would be “I was not at any of those places at the times alleged, and I can prove it.”

Lacking that element, “I am a victim of political persecution” is an element of our theory of “the banana-republican guilty plea.” It might actually be true. But from a public relations point of view, it makes a bad impression.

See also the question of the eyeglasses in an alleged incident involved Uribe hitching a ride on Pablo Escobar’s helicopter:

On “this is a set-up by crooked judges,” see also

A las sindicaciones por presunto paramilitarismo se suman las de un ex paramilitar conocido como Róbinson Javier Guillombo, alias ‘Esteban’, quien habló de una supuesta reunión del Gómez Gallo con Eduardo Restrepo, el ‘Socio’, para recibir una bolsa con dinero.

To these investigations over alleged paramilitary ties, add those of a former para known as … “Esteban,” who told of an alleged meeting between Gómez Gallo and “The Partner” at which he received a bag containing money.

Guillombo dijo que conoció a Gómez Gallo entre marzo y abril del 2004 cuando era escolta de Restrepo. “Pille que ahí hay un puente, que es la variante a Armenia. Hay unas casitas bonitas a mano derecha, es como campestre. Él (Gómez Gallo) estaba ahí. A él le dieron plata, yo fui testigo de eso”, afirma Guillombo. También dice: “escuché de boca de Eduardo que ese señor estaba viviendo en un apartamento suyo en el edificio Camino Dorado, al pie de la discoteca Kefri, en Ibagué”.

“Estaban” says he met Gómez Gallo between March and April of 2004 when he worked as a bodyguard for Restrepo, “The Partner.” “In Pille, another name for Armenia, there is a bridge, with some nice houses on the right-hand side, it is very rural. [Gómez] as there. They gave him money, I witnessed this,” the former bodyguard said. He also says:”I heard straight from Eduardo’s mouth that this gentleman was living in an apartment he owned in the Camino Corado building,near the Kefri disco, in Ibagué.”

“En el interior de la organización se comentaba que Gómez Gallo era de la nómina de Eduardo”, dijo Guillombo en su declaración a la Fiscalía, que fue evaluada por la Corte.

“Inside the organization it was said that Gómez Gallo was Eduardo’s man,” “Esteban” said in his declartion to the Fiscalía, which the Court evaluated.

El senador Luis Humberto Gómez Gallo fue presidente del Congreso en el periodo 2004-2005 y fue impulsor de proyectos de trascendencia para el Tolima como la doble calzada Bogotá-Cajamarca, el Túnel de La Línea y el Triángulo del Tolima.

Gómez Gallo was president of the National Congress from 2004 to 2005 and pushed important projects for his province, such as the widening of the Bogotá-Cajamarca highway, the La Línea tunnel and the Tolima Triangle.

Nació el 26 de junio de 1962 en Ibagué. Tiene tres hijos. Es ingeniero industrial de la Universidad Católica de Colombia, especialista en administración financiera y un posgrado en derecho constitucional en el Externado. Fue concejal de Ibagué en tres periodos consecutivos y senador desde 1997.

He was born June 26, 1962 in Ibagué. He has three children. He is an industrial engineer from the Catholic University of Colombia, specializing in financial management, and has a postgrad degree in constitutional law. …

‘El estaba confiado en que todo iba a salir bien’

“He believes everything will turn out well”

Álvaro Montoya, presidente de la Agencia Regional de Cooperación, Arco, que lidera los proyectos más importantes de desarrollo en el Tolima y a la que pertenece el senador Gómez Gallo, se mostró consternado.

Álvaro Montoy, president of the Regional Cooperation Agency (ARCO), who is leading the most significant development projects in the province, which are Gómez Gallo initiatives, express dismay.

“Estamos enterrados. Si acaban con él acaban también con el liderazgo en el Tolima. Hoy (lunes) hablé con Luis Humberto y dijo que estaba confiado y que asistiría al Congreso hasta el último minuto de sus sesiones. Y que sabía que iban a resolver a su favor. Pero no logró comprobar que todo se trata de un montaje. Se confió y por eso no renunció a su investidura”, señala Montoya.

“We are done for. If they get him, they put an end to the leadershiop of Tolima. I spoke with Luis Humberto today and he said he is confident and will continue to attend sessions until the very end. And that he knew things would turn out in his favor. But he could not manage to prove that all of this is a frame-up. But he is confident, and that is why he did not resign his seat,” Montoya said.

‘Que el partido conservador lo rodee’

“The Conservative Party must rally around him”

Alfredo Bocanegra, abogado conservador y ex candidato a la alcaldía de Ibagué confía en que se demuestre la inocencia del Senador.

Alfredo Bocanegra, a Conservative attorney and former mayoral candidate in Ibagué, believes the Senator’s innocent will be proven.

“Aunque es un proceso escabroso y lento, es necesario que se compruebe su inocencia. Ahora convoco al partido Conservador para que rodee con esperanza la situación de un líder natural que ha brillado a nivel nacional”, afirma Bocanegra.

“Though this is a nauseating, slow process, it is necessary for him to prove his innocence. I call upon the party to rally, with hope, around the situation of a born leader who has had a brilliant national career,” Bocanegra says.

‘Nunca confabulé contra él’

“I never plotted against him”

Pedro Pablo Trujillo, conservador que entraría a la cámara en el caso de ser detenido el representante Gonzalo García, afirmó:

Trujillo, the Conservative who would assume Gonzalo García’s seat if the congressmember is detained, said:

“Es lamentable para el senador Gómez Gallo, su familia y sus amigos. Ojalá el pueda explicarle al país que la justicia está equivocada y que las acusaciones en su contra provienen de declaraciones falsas. El país no puede olvidar que un sinnúmero de personas sindicadas del delito de rebelión vienen demostrando su inocencia porque se están cayendo los testimonios. Les pido solidaridad al partido y al Tolima porque la figura de Gómez Gallo era para mostrar. Aunque yo tengo problemas políticos con él, reconozco su jefatura. Él insinuó que yo estoy detrás de lo que le está pasando. Pero yo tengo paz interior. El tiempo me dará la razón de que no estaba detrás de ninguna confabulación. Lo voy a buscar para que me explique por qué me sindica de estar detrás de eso y poderle demostrar que no es así. Veo su familia y no soy capaz de mirarlos a la cara. No porque no quiera hacerlo, sino porque creerán que yo estoy en alguna conspiración”.

“This is sad for the Senator, his family and his friends. I hope he can explain to the nation that court is wrong and that accusations are based on falsehoods. The nation cannot forget that a vast number of persons investigated for the crime of rebellion have demonstrated their innocence, because the testimony is being discredited. … Although I have political problems with Gómez Gallo, I have inner peace. Time will prove that I was not behind any conspiracy. I am going to ask him to explain why he accuses me of being behind this, and try to show him that is not so. I see his family and cannot look them in the eye. Not because I do not want to, but because they believe I am in on some kind of conspiracy.”

‘La Corte me dio la razón’

“The Court vindicated me”

El abogado tolimense Iván Ramírez fue demandado por Luis Humberto Gómez Gallo por injuria y calumnia luego que Ramírez lo acusara de tener vínculos con grupos paramilitares y con Eduardo Restrepo Victoria, el ‘Socio’, extraditado este lunes a los Estados Unidos.

Tolima attorney Iván Ramírez was sued by Gómez Gallo for slander and defamation when Ramirez accused him of ties to paramilitary groups and Restrepo, who was extradited yesterday to the United States.

“Tal como lo dije cuando en el Gobierno Nacional constituyó una comisión para depurar las listas al congreso, yo también solicité que en el caso del Tolima se depurara la lista del senador Gómez Gallo para evitar que personajes con vínculos con paramilitares y grupos armados no pudieran participar en las elecciones.

“Just as I told you when the national government set up a commission to look into the lists of Congressional candidates, I also asked that Gómez Gallo’s list be looked at in order to avoid people with ties to paras and armed groups participating in the elections.”

“Ese hecho me valió en su momento represalias y denuncias penales. Ahora la Corte, con la decisión de detener al senador, está demostrando que las pruebas que yo presenté tenían soporte y que con base en ellas se vinculó a Gómez Gallo a una investigación penal. Ahora que lo capturan se puede deducir que sí tiene vínculos tanto con el narcotráfico como con el paramilitarismo.

“Doing this brought reprisals and criminal charges against me. Now, the Court, with the decision to arrest the Senator, is showing that the evidence I presented has support, and based on it, Gómez Gallo has been tied to a criminal case. Now that they have arrested him, it can be deduced that he did indeed have ties to the narcotraffic as well as with paramilitarism.”

“A Gómez Gallo le pasa esto por el ansia de poder y porque en el afán de ascender políticamente necesitan plata y terminan aliados con sectores que delinquen”, afirmó Ramírez.

“Gómez Gallo has this thirst for power, and in his eagerness to rise politically needs money and winds up allied with people who commit crimes,” Ramírez said.

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