Israeli mercenary Yair Klein, convicted of training paramilitaries and drug gangs in Colombia, told RCN that the Colombian military paid him to train “security forces.”
Klein, who was recently released from Russian custody and returned to Israel, is wanted for extradition to Colombia for training paramilitaries. The extradition request was blocked, and Klein is now free in his native country. He spoke in the interview about how he was recruited to Colombia to train “security forces” and the military in Magdalena Medio.
The Israeli said he first arrived in Colombia in 1988 with an Israeli company hired to defend banana growers. He claimed the Colombian army, defense minister and businesses owners wanted the company’s help in defending the area from guerrillas. He returned to Israel after a week, but was called to Colombia again and met with representatives of DAS.
“During the Colombian training, they told us we couldn’t bear arms. We could train but we couldn’t bear arms,” Klein said.
He began training Colombian army officials and soldiers in Puerto Boyaca, but left Colombia again because he was told the army had no money to pay him. Klein said three weeks later, Colombian military official Luis Meneses came to Israel and paid him to return to Colombia. Klein said that at one point, when his work was put on hold because the military was being inspected, he was told that the “security forces” he was training and the military were two different things.
Klein concluded his interview by saying he will never set foot on Colombian soil again.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in April blocked the extradition of the Israeli, who was then serving a three-year jail term in Russia.
Russia initially agreed to extradite Klein, but on appeal to the ECHR, the court ruled that Klein would face possible torture and inhumane conditions if extradited to Colombia.