Bogota announced it will ask Russia to extradite a former army officer convicted in absentia of training death squads.
Colombian authorities announced that they are already working in an extradition request of a former Israeli army officer recently detained at a Moscow airport on an arrest warrant issued by Interpol. Yair Klein, a former litenuant colonel has been convicted in absentia by courts in Bogota for training right-wing death squads responsible for the assassination of farmers and drug-trafficking in the South American country.
The Colombian government is confident that Russia will agree to extradite Klein as per the existing laws. "Hopefully they'll hand (Klein) over to us so he can rot in jail for all the damage he's caused Colombia," Vice President Francisco Santos said Tuesday. Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo said embassy staff in Moscow were translating the extradition request.
According to Bogota, a Colombian judge convicted and sentenced Klein to 10 years in prison for his role in the 1980s training of far-right paramilitary groups responsible for mass murder and widespread land theft during a decade-long reign of terror across Colombia's countryside.
Klein and two other Israelis are also accused of training the private army of deceased druglord Pablo Escobar on how to carry out high-profile killings such as the 1989 assassination of cartel-fighting presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan.
Klein has not denied allegations about his role in Colombia’s dirty war. In a March interview from Israel with Colombia's Caracol television, he acknowledged he helped train right-wing militias on how to defeat leftist rebels. However, he denied ever working with the country's cocaine cartels.
Klein denied having had participation in narcotics, as per existing bilateral deals, any person involved in narcotics in Colombia could be tried in the United States. Washington believes that drug-trafficking in Colombia affects its national security and therefore charges against persons involved can be filed there.
Andres Penate, head of Colombia's DAS intelligence agency, which cooperated in Klein's arrest, said the Israeli's extradition could take up to one year.
It is not the first time that Klein is involved in international scandals connected with his activities. He was arrested and imprisoned in Sierra Leone in 1999 on charges of smuggling arms to the rebel group Revolutionary United Front.
In 2000 Colombian intelligence agents arrested two Israelis and a Colombian suspected of being part of an arms-smuggling network attempting to deliver more than 50,000 guns to guerrillas. The Israeli men had links with Klein.
In 1991, Klein was convicted by an Israeli court of illegally exporting military arms and information to a Colombian group. He was fined $13,400. He has denied all charges. The evidence against him includes a training video that he used to instruct death squads in Colombia. The main leaders in the infamous Carlos Castano's paramilitary groups were trained by Yair Klein.
Massacres, assassinations of politicians and other terror tactics now used by paramilitaries in Colombia were part of the instruction that Yair Klein gave in his training camps.