Former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe has been denounced before an Argentine court for his alleged responsibility in over 6,000 executions and forced disappearances of civilians between 2002 and 2008.
The case, known as “false positives,” dates back to his time in office as head of state, court sources in Argentina informed on Thursday.
After meeting victims’ relatives and human rights organisations acting as plaintiffs, Buenos Aires City Federal Judge Sebastián Ramos requested time to assess the lawsuit and decide whether to open a criminal investigation, Colombian lawyer Daniela Rodríguez Sanabria said.
The court agreed to investigate the allegations based on the principles of universal jurisdiction, which holds that some acts – including war crimes and crimes against humanity -– are so horrific they are not specific to one nation and can be tried anywhere. Argentina recognises this principle in its Constitution.
Judge Ramos himself opened an investigation in July over a report of crimes against humanity against heads of the National Bolivarian Guard of Venezuela for the deaths resulting from the crackdown on opposition demonstrations in 2014.
Plaintiffs against Uribe include relatives of four out of a total 6,112 deceased recorded by military forces up to 2008 under Uribe’s two terms as president (2002-2010) as “combat casualties”.
The lawsuit was accompanied by the Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective and the Libertad Legal, all three organisations from Colombia.
The case was presented in Argentina “because the country applies universal jurisdiction, but also because we share a past of atrocities and believed that there could be greater sensitivity in this quest for justice,” said Rodríguez Sanabria.
“We have hopes in a serious, swift and impartial investigation, which we did not have in Colombia,” the lawyer added and assured that the evidence presented “prove that former president Uribe was aware of the facts.”
The facts have already been recorded by the JEP Special Peace Jurisdiction, the mechanism created for peace accords in 2016 between the Colombian state and the FARC guerrilla organisation, but without jurisdiction to try presidents and former presidents.
“We believe Argentine courts will respond. We have hope. In Colombia, there is no peace due to the corruption of judges who have been Uribe’s friends,” said Bertina Badillo Herazo, a relative of one of the victims included in the lawsuit.
The “false positives” are the worst scandal faced by Colombian military forces in over half a century of armed conflict.
The victims were taken under false pretences and promises of work to other areas of the country where they were murdered and dressed in guerrilla gear to present them as combat casualties in exchange for promotions and days off.
In their confessions to the JEP, some soldiers stated that they were pressured by their superiors and even pointed to General Mario Montoya, head of the army between 2006 and 2008 and very close to Uribe.