MEDELLIN'S FISCALIA IN CRISIS
THE CRISIS WITH THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY IS STRUCTURAL, NOT SITUATIONAL
Different media outlets have profusely spread information that has shed light on the link between the one-time director of the Antioquia chapter of the district attorney's office, Guillermo León Valencia Cossio*, with paramilitary groups.
The forcefulness and gravity of information concerning criminal infiltration in the top spheres of the prosecuting body of Antioquia has brought about the dismissal of Guillermo León Valencia Cossio and public apologies from the country's attorney general, doctor Mario Iguarán Arana, to the community of Medellín.
As long-time representatives of victims, we condemn the fact that Mr. Valencia Cossio's management was directed towards neutralizing and distorting investigations into such relevant events as the extermination of the Patriot Union Party and the financing of paramilitary structures in Urabá on behalf of businesses in the banana industry.
Making use of the broad faculties available to senior employees of the district attorney's office, Mr. Valencia Cossio reassigned investigations that explained the linkage between paramilitary groups and business and political sectors, one of the most relevant being related to the violent removal of peasants from their lands in La Niña, located in the Vereda Nueva Colonia of the municipality of Turbo, Antioquia, where strangely an instruction that came before the crime of an agreement to commit a criminal offense, was reduced in its scope to being punishable for fraud and obstructing justice.
Paradoxically, in the period in which Mr. Valencia Cossio officiated as chapter director of the district attorney's office, there was an increase in the persecution of communities residing in areas supposedly under the influence of insurgent organizations, a situation which had its expression in arbitrary processes of large-scale detentions in different municipalities in Antioquia, where hundreds of citizens were deprived of their freedom until they no longer questioned the presumption of guilt that fell upon them.
The serious questions that are today being put to the prosecuting body must transcend the current situation and go beyond the evidence that they jeopardize in their favoring of paramilitary organizations and ex-officials from the district attorney's office such as Luis Camilo Osorio and Guillermo León Valencia Cossio. What should be put forth as the order of the day at the current time is questioning the lack of autonomy and independence of the officials from the district attorney's office, whose top dignitary is elected from a list of three candidates presented by the country's president; the vertical structure of the district attorney's office and the temporary status of the majority of its employees make it vulnerable to improper mismanagement from the executive, and its infiltration by corrupt politicians and criminal organizations.
CORPORACION JURIDICA LIBERTAD
September 5, 2008
*Brother of the current Minister of Justice Fabio Valencia Cossio