Colombia ex-president appears before Supreme Court in witness tampering investigation

Bogota (AFP) –


Colombia's popular and influential former president Alvaro Uribe, who is facing a judicial investigation over witness tampering, appeared Tuesday before the country's Supreme Court, which will decide whether or not it will try the former leader.

It was the first time an ex-president has appeared before Columbia's highest court.

In 2012, right-wing Uribe filed a complaint against leftist senator Ivan Cepeda, who Uribe says hatched a plot to falsely link him to paramilitary groups.

But now the court has instead opened a witness tampering investigation into 67-year-old Uribe, who is now a senator and the leader of current President Ivan Duque's Democratic Center party.

Uribe, whose efforts to stand up to far-left guerrillas in Colombia are both applauded and criticized, arrived at the court Tuesday morning flanked by an impressive security force.

Supporters and opponents had been gathered in front of the building since the early hours of the morning, and the proceedings, which were held behind closed doors, went on for hours.

If the court decides on a trial, Uribe could spend up to eight years in prison, and he could also face pre-trial detention.

The decision is expected to take several days.

The investigation begins as Colombia prepares for local elections to choose mayors and governors on October 27.

"I have not said anything that has broken the law," Uribe told local media ahead of the hearing.