Former Colombian senator seeks Costa Rican asylum (Lead)

April 23rd, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by admin  

Bogota, April 23 (IANS) Former Colombian senator Mario Uribe Escobar, a cousin of President Alvaro Uribe, has sought political asylum at the Costa Rican embassy, Spain’s EFE news agency reported Wednesday. Mario Uribe’s lawyer Jose del Carmen Ortega told Caracol Radio the former senator filed an asylum request with the Costa Rican government after the attorney general (AG)’s office issued an arrest warrant on him for alleged links with right wing militia.

Ortega did not disclose on what ground his client sought the asylum.

” Mario Uribe is being investigated for a meeting he held with former paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso before the March 10, 2002, elections and with Jairo Castillo Peralta, alias ‘Pitirri,’ in November of 1998,” a statement from the AG’s office said.

Mancuso was the top leader of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), militia, while Castillo was a senior commander in the group.

Mario Uribe, one of dozens of politicians accused of having ties with right wing militia, faces charges of engaging in “criminal conspiracy to commit crimes via agreements to promote armed groups on the margins of the law,” the AG’s office said.

The warrant for Uribe Escobar came a day after two other politicians, a senator and a former mayor, were detained on similar charges.

Senator Ricardo Ariel Elcure Chacon surrendered Monday to authorities in Bogota after the Andean nation’s high court ordered his arrest.

A total of 32 members of Congress are under arrest and more than two dozen others are under investigation for their alleged links to the rightist death squads.

The penetration of the AUC into Colombian politics came to light in November 2006 when the so-called “para-political” scandal broke, leading to the arrests of the politicians, most of them allies of President Alvaro Uribe, now in his second term in office.

Last week, authorities said the speaker of congress, Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, and former speaker Carlos Garcia Orjuela, who heads the pro-government La U party, were under investigation.

Former Santa Marta Mayor, Jose Francisco Zu

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