Ex-cop claims Uribe’s brother led death squad

BOGOTA, Colombia—A retired police major said Monday that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s younger brother commanded a right-wing death squad in the early 1990s from the family’s cattle ranch. He estimated the militia killed at least 50 people.

The former policeman said Santiago Uribe also claimed his older brother, who was a senator at the time, was fully aware of the death squad. But former Maj. Juan Carlos Meneses, 42, said he had no evidence Alvaro Uribe had any knowledge of the illegal militia and did not meet the man until nearly a decade later.

“I’ve got nothing against Alvaro Uribe, absolutely nothing,” Meneses told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location. He said he sought exile in Venezuela last year because he feared for his life.

Santiago Uribe, 53, did not respond to repeated attempts to reach him by telephone and through relatives and friends.

However, he denied the allegations in an interview with The Washington Post, which first reported Meneses’ story Sunday along with the Argentine magazine Pagina 12.

Alvaro Uribe was asked about the case at a news conference Monday and replied, “I don’t read international newspapers.”

His interior minister, Fabio Valencia, suggested Meneses’ accusations were politically motivated and timed to influence the May 30 presidential election, in which former Uribe defense minister Juan Manuel Santos and Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus are in a tight race.

Meneses retired from Colombia’s national police in 2004. Senior police officials reached by the AP would not comment on his record.

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