The Colombian government denied the U.S.’s extradition request for Freddy “El Aleman” Rendon Herrera, a former paramilitary leader wanted by the U.S. for drug trafficking, but approved that of DMG legal advisor Margarita Pabon.
The decision not to extradite El Aleman took into account the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter, which stated that the paramilitary leader must answer to Colombian justice and make reparations to his victims before the issue of extradition can be addressed.
The government and the court have clashed of late. The court canceled a meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, which had been scheduled to discuss Colombia’s extradition treaty with the U.S., after the leader called the court’s issuance of an arrest warrant for government official Mario Aranguren an “injustice” that causes a “lack of confidence.”.
The Supreme Court is considering amending the U.S.-Colombia extradition treaty, due to concern that it interferes with the Justice and Peace process.
El Aleman was close to the notorious Carlos Castaño, who founded paramilitary group the Peasant Self-Defense Forces of Cordoba and Uraba. He was sentenced to fourteen years in prison in October last year for the murder of a child, and has accepted responsibility for the deaths of 451 other people between 1996 and 2001.
Extradited paramilitaries themselves have complained that extradition has stopped them from adequately participating in the reparation process.
However Pabon’s extradition, on charges of money laundering, was previously approved by both the court and Uribe.
Pabon was a legal advisor and close aide of David Murcia, the extradited leader of alleged Ponzi scheme and money laundering operation DMG.
According to Colombian authorities, DMG was a pyramid scheme that laundered money for local drug lords. Murcia always defended his business as legitimate, and claims that he is being persecuted in order to defend the interests of established Colombian banks.
Hundreds of thousands of Colombian lost their savings when police shut down all activities of the company late 2008. Most of the money that had been “invested” in DMG is still missing.
The U.S-Colombian extradition treaty has been in place since 1982 and was amended in 1997 to allow for the extradition of Colombian nationals.