Colombian president’s cousin seeks asylum

April 23rd, 2008 - 2:35 pm ICT by admin  

Bogota, April 23 (DPA) Former Colombian senator Mario Uribe, cousin of President Alvaro Uribe, have requested political asylum at the Costa Rican embassy here, hours after the public prosecutor’s office ordered his arrest. The former senator’s arrest was ordered Tuesday in the framework of an investigation over alleged ties with extreme right paramilitaries.

Jose Ortega - one of the former senator’s lawyers - confirmed that Mario Uribe entered the embassy to make the formal request. He added that the central American country was chosen given its prior record on asylum cases.

Sources close to the politician had said earlier that he was getting ready to turn himself in to Colombian authorities “in the next few hours.”

Several relatives of victims of the paramilitaries demonstrated before the Costa Rican embassy to demand the authorities in San Jose do not grant asylum to the president’s cousin.

Mario Uribe, the leader of the Democratic Colombia party, which backs the president, was linked with the case by the Supreme Court in October, gave up his seat in the senate so that the investigation could be handed to the public prosecutor’s office.

The authorities said in a statement that the arrest warrant was preventive, and that it was not subject to bail.

The case, known in Colombia as “parapolitics,” involved some 60 legislators elected in 2006. Most of them belong to the centre-right coalition that backs President Uribe, and arrest warrants have been issued for 32 of them.

More than 20 have resigned their seats in Congress.

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