MIAMI – Julian Marulanda, the former general secretary of the Colombian agency tasked with protecting reporters and human rights defenders, broke the three-year silence he has maintained since taking refuge in the US to offer his cooperation to the Attorney General’s Office in a corruption case.
In an interview with EFE, Marulanda, who is not a fugitive from Colombian justice, said he had nothing to do with the scandal that emerged in 2014 within the National Protection Unit (UNP) and considers himself to be a scapegoat.
Given the accusations made against him by Andres Villamizar, who was UNP director in 2014, Marulanda is the only person to have had court proceedings launched against him over the millions of dollars embezzled from the UNP via overinvoicing and unnecessary purchases, including weapons and ammunition, according to the General Comptroller’s Office.
“The UNP unions had everything ready (in 2014) to file the complaint involving the whole corruption framework that had been erected within the UNP, but (Villamizar) found out about it and quickly pushed his political influence in the AG’s Office. Then, he went to the media to denounce it with lies,” Marulanda said.
The former No. 2 UNP official, who received political asylum within the US, told EFE that he had to leave Colombia because of threats and persecution against him and his family.
Because of all that and because they “ruined” his life, Marulanda is intending to bring the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
“In July 2015, the Comptroller made public a big report about what was happening in the UNP and found more than 70 fiscal (instances) revealing an accounting shortfall of 14 billion pesos ($4.5 million),” he said, although “there were other irregularities that could increase the amount ... to more than 50 billion pesos ($18 million),” but the AG’s Office never acted on the matter.
In the Comptroller’s report, as EFE determined, the UNP bought 1,669 pistols and more than 138,000 rounds of ammunition when the bodyguard payroll for the unit was just 400.
The Comptroller’s Office also found that the UNP had no indicator for tallying the number of people being protected.
Marulanda also said that in 2014 the AG’s Technical Investigation Unit said that there was a band of corrupt officials within the UNP and that it had enough evidence to bring them to justice, although three years later, not a single person from the alleged band has been captured.
Marulanda included his to collaborate with Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez in a request he made to the Comptroller, the AG’s Office and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to obtain information about how the investigation into the case is progressing.
He said that in 2014 several reporters and social leaders who had requested UNP protection were murdered, adding that “impunity still prevails and nobody seems to care about those lives.”