A Colombian pastor has returned to his home country after 9 months in a US jail following his wrongful extradition to the USA, reported Radio Santa Fe on Tuesday.
The victim was Joel Chaustre, a native evangelical pastor from the city of Cucuta, who was arrested on September 11, 2013 and delivered to the American authorities.
The US Justice Department accused the preacher of setting up a powerful drug trafficking organization, and requested his extradition to stand trial for money laundering, a crime that has a sentence of 15 years in prison in the United States.
After 9 months of being held in a federal prison, U.S. authorities found no evidence to incriminate the pastor.
Chaustre had two options. If he chose to plead not guilty to the charges he would be forced to spend longer in prison while his case was resolved. Instead he plead guilty which would exonerate his time spent in prison.
This case is similar to Ariel Josue Martinez, who was working as a carpenter in the southern region of Caqueta when he was arrested for allegedly laundering nearly $1 million. He claimed he does not know how to use a computer.
Martinez was freed in September after six months in jail. Martinez was detained since March of this year. The US recognized its mistake and canceled its extradition request for the Colombian laborer.
According to El Tiempo newspaper, officials in Bogota recognized the error as “serious” and plan to compensate Martinez for the time unjustly spent in detention.
Prior to his arrest, Martinez dedicated his time to cutting wood and raising his four children.
- Colombiano extraditado a EEUU por error volvió al país tras 9 meses de cárcel (Radio Sana Fe)
- Estados Unidos Retirara Solicitud De Extradicion Del Carpintero (El Tiempo)
- Extradition approval (Supreme Court)