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United States Revokes Visa of Former Chief Prosecutor

June 29, 1996 GMT

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ The United States revoked the visa of Colombia’s former top prosecutor on Friday, claiming he is linked to drug traffickers.

Gustavo de Greiff, chief prosecutor from 1992 to 1994 and now ambassador to Mexico, called the move ``an infamy and an injustice.″ He is the latest of more than a dozen Colombian officials whose U.S. visas have been revoked for alleged ties to drug interests.

The sanction is ``part of the campaign that the United States has been waging against me because I dared to say that that (U.S.) government’s repressive anti-drug strategy is not working,″ De Greiff said.

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Critics allege De Greiff prematurely shut down an investigation into allegations that President Ernesto Samper’s 1994 campaign knowingly accepted $6 million from the Cali cartel, the world’s most powerful drug gang.

Three weeks ago, the House of Representatives cleared Samper of drug corruption charges initiated by De Greiff’s successor, Alfonso Valdivieso _ a favorite of Washington.

The visa revocation is certain to further strain U.S.-Colombian relations, which have been shaky since the United States decertified Colombia in March as an ally in the fight against drug traffickers.

This week, the United States formally requested the extradition of three jailed bosses of the Cali cartel. Washington has also threatened to impose trade sanctions if Colombia does not step up its anti-drug efforts.

During De Greiff’s tenure, authorities dismantled the powerful Medellin cartel and killed its leader, Pablo Escobar. But De Greiff angered the United States by advocating the legalization of drugs and sentence reductions for drug traffickers who surrendered.

More recently, U.S. officials have accused De Greiff of attempting to interfere in the New York trial of a Colombian citizen convicted in the 1989 bombing of an Avianca airliner in which more than 100 people died, including two Americans.