Colombia orders investigation into paramilitary conspiracy charges

Colombia's Attorney General Mario Iguaran Arana on Tuesday summoned 21 politicians to testify on possible conspiracy charges relating to the July 2001 Rialito Agreement, an alleged meeting where leading politicians agreed to a paramilitary political program.

"Merely holding a secret meeting and the signing of a secret document with ... the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia's chiefs of staff, is enough to implicate in an illegal conspiracy," Iguaran said.

Among those he has summoned are two former governors, six former congressmen, two former mayors, two ranchers, regional officers and a journalist.

The meeting, in Santa Fe de Rialito of the northwestern department of Cordoba, brought together paramilitary chiefs, political leaders and former ministers who are mostly linked to President Alvaro Uribe.

Chief federal prosecutor Mario Iguaran on Tuesday said he would investigate whether the people at the meeting with the paramilitaries without government consent, were collaborating with an illegal armed group, which the U.S. government calls a terrorist organization.

Eight pro-government congressmen and the former head of Uribe's domestic intelligence agency have been arrested as part of the widening scandal.

Iguaran said his office has documents and witness statements that indicate who was responsible for the accords. The Supreme Court of Justice has launched an investigation against at least five sitting Congressmen.

Source: Xinhua



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