Cablegate: Prosecutor General Osorio and Ambassador Review

Published: Tue 2 Mar 2004 10:10 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
id: 14485
date: 3/2/2004 22:05
refid: 04BOGOTA2313
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: SECRET
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 002313
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2019
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood for reasons 1.5 (b), (c), (d)
1. (S) Summary: In a meeting with the Ambassador on March
5, Prosecutor General (Fiscal General) Osorio said that he
had accepted the resignations of two senior Fiscalia
officials and dismissed several others in an effort to clean
house. He will also allow the Fiscalia,s prosecutors to
elect a new national director. The Ambassador said that
Osorio, as immediate priorities, should: (1) polygraph all
senior Fiscalia officials; and (2) establish a secure,
independent anti-corruption unit with the necessary
authorities and responsibilities, reporting directly to him.
The unit,s first duty should be to investigate seven
Fiscalia officials whom we believe to be involved in serious
corruption. Osorio agreed to the polygraphing, resisted
creation of the anti-corruption unit, and questioned
allegations against several of the seven. Osorio asked for
the embassy to provide information. The Ambassador responded
that the Fiscalia already had sufficient information to begin
investigating and that it was up to the Fiscalia to do its
own investigations. End Summary.
2. (C) Prosecutor General Luis Camilo Osorio called on the
Ambassador March 5 to discuss allegations that the Office of
the Prosecutor General (Fiscalia), the GOC's lead
prosecutorial entity, was penetrated by paramilitaries and
narcotics interests. Osorio noted that he had just returned
from Washington, where Department of Justice's Criminal
Division Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) Mary Lee
Warren had provided him with recommendations to root out
paramilitary and narcotics-related collusion. Osorio
commented that upon returning to Colombia he had found
himself "in the eye of a hurricane" given the intense media
commentary about corruption within the Fiscalia. The
Ambassador noted that the Fiscalia's credibility was under
question, and this could not only undermine Colombians' faith
in their justice system, but could have serious consequences
for USG assistance to the Fiscalia.
Osorio: "I'm Taking Actions"
3. (S) Osorio outlined recent dismissals and resignations of
senior-level Fiscalia officials. He had fired the former
Director of the Witness Protection Program, Lucio Pabon, for
incompetence. He had also dismissed prosecutors in Cali for
documented and suspected ties to narcotics traffickers. He
had accepted the resignation of the National Director of the
Fiscales (i.e., prosecutors), Justo Pastor Rodriquez, noting
that he could not defend Pastor's questionable actions. He
had reluctantly accepted the resignation of Pastor's
next-in-line, Carlos Hernando Arias. Although he questioned
the charges against Arias, the Fiscalia was investigating
allegations against both Pastor and Arias. Osorio was going
to have the Fiscalia's prosecutors elect the next National
Director of Fiscales.
Rotten Apples
4. (S) The Ambassador observed that the Embassy had been
conducting its own study of the penetration of the Fiscalia
by paramilitary and narcotics interests. The U.S. was
convinced that key Fiscalia officials had manipulated
investigations and prosecutions in paramilitary and
narcotrafficking cases. In addition, prosecutors who
zealously pursued these cases had been summarily reassigned
or even dismissed. The Embassy had had serious concerns
about Justo Pastor and Lucio Pabon, and welcomed their
removal. In addition, the Embassy has equally strong
reservations regarding senior officials still within the
Ambassador's Recommendations
5. (S) The Ambassador called for polygraphing of high-level
Fiscalia officials, noting that the Prosecutor General had
previously agreed to polygraph all members of the National
Anti-Narcotics Unit (UNAIM). He recommended polygraphing all
Office Directors within the Fiscalia, including Specialized
Unit Directors and Delegates before the Supreme Courts, and
all the Fiscalia and CTI Sectional Directors (i.e., the
senior Fiscalia and CTI officials in each of the 32
departments). The total of senior officials polygraphed
would be more than 90. Both the Prosecutor General and the
Embassy should get the results of the polygraphs. The
Ambassador suggested that it would be beneficial for the
Prosecutor General to work with the President's
Anti-Corruption Czar, Maria Margarita Zuleta, in implementing
anti-corruption reforms within the Fiscalia.
6. (S) The Ambassador stressed that it was the Fiscalia's
responsibility to investigate wrongdoing committed by its own
personnel. The Ambassador called on the Prosecutor General
to establish an anti-corruption unit with the authority to
investigate and prosecute corrupt Fiscalia officials. The
new unit should be staffed with trusted personnel who have
undergone background checks and polygraphs. Since we did not
question Osorio's commitment, the unit should report its
findings directly to the Prosecutor General. This new unit
should begin by investigating the allegations against
individuals of particular concern.
Osorio Responds
7. (S) Osorio denied that he had any contacts with the
paramilitaries, or any of the other illegal armed groups. He
agreed to polygraph senior Fiscalia officials. He resisted
the establishment of a new anti-corruption unit, arguing that
he could not independently assign this jurisdiction to a new
unit. Instead, he could create an ad-hoc unit and staff it
with senior, respected prosecutors. A more promising
institutional alternative, he added, was expanding the scope
of authority of the about to be created "Anti-Mafia Unit" so
that it could pursue corruption within the Fiscalia.
8. (S) Osorio said that he intended to fire the Fiscalia's
Sectional Director in the department of Cesar, Alix Cecilia
Dasa. Osorio questioned, however, the veracity of the
allegations against three, perhaps four, of the other
officials about which the Embassy expressed serious
reservations. Osorio asked for the Embassy to share its
information with the Fiscalia, sanitized to protect the
sources, to help it conduct its investigations. The
Ambassador observed that in the Embassy's view the Fiscalia
had not pursued all of the information already available to
it in these cases and that it was up to the Fiscalia to
conduct investigations, not the Embassy.
9. (S) Comment and Action Request: We are concerned by
Osorio,s reluctance to empower a vetted anti-corruption
unit. We believe that the Fiscalia can robustly fight
corruption within its ranks only by empowering a "walled-off"
vetted anti-corruption unit. We urge that this be a priority
topic during the visit of DAAG Warren this week. End Comment.
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