Executive Confirms Cali Cartel Associates Helped Pay for Campaign
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Cali drug cartel associates paid for campaign banners and brochures for President Ernesto Samper’s 1994 election bid, a campaign employee testified.
The testimony by Mauricio Montejo matches statements by imprisoned Samper campaign treasurer Santiago Medina that the world’s biggest drug trafficking outfit helped Samper win the presidency.
Montejo’s testimony was reported in newspapers Wednesday, and confirmed by one of his associates.
Montejo, an executive hired to print campaign literature, told prosecutors Tuesday that he was paid by Alberto Giraldo and Julian Murcillo, two cartel associates currently in prison, the newspaper El Tiempo reported.
A Montejo associate told The Associated Press that they delivered $230,000 in a box.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Montejo did not know at the time who Giraldo and Murcillo were, but recognized them later when their photos appeared in newspapers.
Montejo testified that Medina and campaign administrator Juan Manuel Avella told him to pick up the money the campaign owed him at Giraldo’s home, El Tiempo said.
Samper’s campaign director, former Defense Minister Fernando Botero, is also in custody in Colombia’s highest-reaching drug scandal.
Medina has admitted under oath that, with Samper’s approval and under Botero’s direction, he obtained at least $6.1 million in campaign funds from the Cali cartel, which controls the world’s cocaine market and a large part of heroin trafficking.
Samper and Botero have denied knowing of any cartel contributions to the campaign.
A congressional commission is investigating Samper at the president’s own request. Opposition politicians predict a whitewash because prosecutors are also investigating many congressmen for Cali cartel links, and because most of the commission members belong to Samper’s Liberal Party.