Politician under Investigation for Paramilitary Ties Appointed as Ambassador to Holland
News from Colombia |
on: Thursday, 7 February 2008
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has named a politician accused of links to a paramilitary death squad as the new Colombian Ambassador in Holland. The appointment of Juan Jose Chaux, a former regional Governor, came just two weeks after the Colombian Attorney General announced that he was opening an investigation into Mr Chaux for collaborating with the paramilitaries.
Colombian human rights groups, including the internationally respected CAJAR human rights lawyers' collective, have voiced concerns over the President's actions, saying that he should not be appointing people under investigation for such links to any public posts. They add that making Mr Chaux an Ambassador has the potential to damage Colombia's international relations.
The case is similar to that of Jorge Noguera, the former head of the presidential intelligence service who Uribe appointed as Colombian Consul in Milan immediately after accusations surfaced that Noguera had been working with the paramilitaries. Mr Noguera was called back to Colombia and imprisoned adter a public outcry and is currently awaiting trial for murder.
Another former Ambassador appointed by Uribe in 2003, Salvador Arana, again a former regional Governor, is currently a fugitive from justice after being cited by the Attorney General's office for paramilitary links.
According to the human rights groups, President Uribe has a history of trying to protect politicians and public officials with close ties to paramilitaries and that by doing so he is making it more difficult for the Colombian justice system to carry out their investigations.
The specific allegations against Juan Jose Chaux include charges made in November 2007 that he attended a meeting to discuss strategy with paramilitary commanders and that he was elected with political and financial support from the paramilitaries.