Colombia's influential former President ?lvaro Uribe on Wednesday denounced as "political vengeance" a move by national prosecutors to bring him to trial in a case of witness tampering that has shadowed his legacy.

Uribe insisted in a video message that there was no evidence against him, a day after prosecutors announced their intention to formally charge Uribe with bribery of witnesses in criminal proceedings and procedural fraud.

That would make Uribe the first former president to face trial in Colombia.

FORMER VENEZUELAN OIL CZAR ARRESTED IN CORRUPTION PROBE

The case against Uribe derives from allegations made a decade ago by an opposition senator that Uribe was tied to the creation of a paramilitary group. The former president was accused of bribing former paramilitaries to change their testimonies.

?lvaro Uribe

Senator and former president ?lvaro Uribe arrives to the Supreme Court for questioning in an investigation for witness tampering charges in Bogotá, Colombia, Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia, File)

Uribe accused the senator of slander, but that case was dismissed, and the Supreme Court instead opened a criminal case against Uribe on allegations of manipulating witnesses.

"This trial is being carried out due to political presumptions, personal animosities, political vengeance, without evidence to infer that I was trying to bribe witnesses or deceive justice," said Uribe, who served as president from 2002 to 2010.

Uribe was under house arrest in the case for two months in 2020.

Uribe could face up to 12 years in prison on the charge of bribing witnesses and eight years in prison on the charge of procedural fraud.

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Under previous administrations, Colombian prosecutors tried twice to close the case after saying they had failed to find "criminal responsibility of the defendant." Those requests were rejected by criminal judges.

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