Hearing in case against Colombian ex-president to continue on Friday

FILE PHOTO: Colombia's former president, Alvaro Uribe, pictured in 2019

By Luis Jaime Acosta

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A Colombian judge said on Tuesday a hearing on whether to shelve an investigation of witness-tampering that involves former President Alvaro Uribe will continue on Friday.

The attorney general's office asked last month for the hearing on potentially curtailing the investigation, after it found Uribe's conduct did not constitute a crime.

Uribe and several allies are being investigated over possible witness tampering which was allegedly carried out in an attempt to discredit accusations he had ties to right-wing paramilitary groups.

Uribe has said repeatedly he is innocent.

Judge Carmen Helena Ortiz suspended the live-streamed hearing so she could consider a request to include additional victims in the case.

It will continue on April 9 from 8 a.m. local time, she said.

Uribe's critics - who have long decried what they say are his ties to paramilitary groups - have repeatedly alleged the attorney general's office would be less rigorous in its investigation than the Supreme Court, which was originally charged with the probe.

The former president, who is still highly influential, resigned his Senate seat last year after the Supreme Court ordered him placed under house arrest. The resignation triggered the transfer of the case to the attorney general's office.

Uribe's detention lasted just over two months before a judge lifted the order.

The case stems from a 2012 allegation by Uribe, who accused leftist Senator Ivan Cepeda of orchestrating a plot to tie him to paramilitaries.

But in 2018 the Supreme Court said Cepeda had collected information from former fighters as part of his work and had not paid or pressured former paramilitaries. Instead the court said it was Uribe and his allies who pressured witnesses.

Both sides will be able to appeal any ruling that is eventually made.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Matthew Lewis)