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Colombia may appeal over extradition of Israeli mercenary

posted by Teresa Welsh
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Colombia news - Yair Klein

Colombia’s Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras on Tuesday said Colombia may appeal against the European Court of Human Rights’ block on extraditing Israeli mercenary Yair Klein to Colombia, where he has been convicted of training paramilitary and drug gangs.

Klein’s lawyer announced Monday that his client will be freed this week from his Russia jail and deported Israel, where he does not face any charges. The lawyer said that Russia decided in October to accept the rights court’s ruling against Klein’s extradition, made in May.

“This lack of cooperation is very surprising,” said Vargas Lleras. “We’re going to examine the possibility of an appeal against the decision. It is very unfortunate because Yair Klein has pending cases here, which he should respond to.”

Klein was convicted in absentia to ten years in jail for his work training illegal groups in Colombia, including the Medellin cartel of Pablo Escobar, and has spent the past three years in a Russian jail. Colombia requested in April that the mercenary to be extradited to serve his sentence in the Andean country.

The interior minister stressed the importance of extradition, saying that “There should be greater international cooperation. Extradition is a weapon against international crime.”

Russia decided to deny Colombia’s extradition request for the 67-year old Klein after the European Court on Human Rights agreed with Klein’s defense that the mercenary had not received a fair trial and that if he were returned to Colombia to serve his prison sentence, he would be subjected to torture and inhumane conditions and his life would be in grave danger.

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