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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Uribe ally quits Colombia Senate
A cousin of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has resigned from the Senate to avoid a Supreme Court inquiry into whether he had ties to paramilitaries.

Mario Uribe's resignation comes amid a scandal that has seen dozens of politicians accused of paramilitary links and 14 jailed awaiting trial.

His case now goes from the Supreme Court, which investigates lawmakers, to the regular court system.

Mr Uribe's lawyer said this would give his client more opportunity to appeal.

The Supreme Court, which launched a formal investigation into Mario Uribe last week, does not allow any appeal of its rulings, unlike lower courts.

Mario Uribe, who is a key ally of President Uribe, has denied any wrongdoing.


A jailed former leader of the AUC, Salvatore Mancuso, has alleged that he met several times with Mario Uribe who asked him to support his senate campaign in 2002.

To date, inquiries have been opened into dozens of lawmakers over their alleged ties to the United Self-defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitaries in what has been dubbed the "parapolitics" scandal.

The paramilitaries were created by landowners and drug-traffickers to combat left-wing rebels and anyone suspected of being a sympathiser.

The US state department branded the militias, including the AUC, as foreign terrorist organisations in 2001.

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