Supreme Court orders inquiry into Colombia’s former attorney general

Osorio was purportedly linked to paramilitaries who infliltrated his office

Paramilitaries from the AUC's Catatumbo unit seen here in 2004 before they turn over their arms and demobilize.
Paramilitaries from the AUC's Catatumbo unit seen here in 2004 before they turn over their arms and demobilize.AP

The Colombian Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Congress to open an investigation into a former attorney general, who served during two presidential terms, for his alleged links to paramilitary forces.

In its resolution, the top court said that there was enough evidence to link Luis Camilo Osorio with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Osorio served under President Andrés Pastrana and his successor, Álvaro Uribe.

The Chamber of Representative’s Accusation Committee — which has the power to investigate the country’s top officials, including the president — will have to decide whether to open a case against the 70-year-old former chief prosecutor.

The court’s resolution was handed down as part of an indictment against Senator Piedad Zuccardi, a member of President Juan Manuel Santos’ Social Party of National Unity, who it is alleged also has links to the AUC.

This is not the first time that the controversial Osorio has been connected to underground organizations. During his tenure, several scandals broke when it emerged that paramilitaries had infiltrated the Attorney General’s Office. Osorio had been summoned to appear before the Accusations Committee at the time, but no charges were brought against him.

Jorge “El Iguano” Iván Laverde, a demobilized paramilitary leader, has acknowledged on several occasions that his men were able to infiltrate the public prosecutor’s office in Norte de Santander department, on the Venezuelan border. The internal spies were able to warn paramilitary forces about ongoing investigations against the groups.

Even as Colombian media and NGOs complained about the infiltrations at the time, Osorio protected his subordinate officials and prevented internal investigations from being carried out.

The director of the prosecutor’s office in Norte de Santander, Ana María Florez, was convicted for permitting AUC members from gaining access to her department. She is currently a fugitive from justice.

Her former assistant Magali Moreno has said that Florez was a close friend of Osorio, who named her to that position despite the allegations against her at the time.

Osorio has also been accused of shelving cases, including the murder investigation against former General Rito Alejo del Río, who was eventually convicted in 2012 for the killing of a farm laborer ordered by the AUC.

After leaving the Attorney General’s Office, Osorio was named Colombian ambassador to Italy and then Mexico by Uribe. He served in both diplomatic posts from 2006 to 2010.

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