Colombia’s Vice President Francisco Santos has voiced concerns over the Supreme Court’s decision to reject a U.S. request for the extradition of demobilized paramilitary boss Edwar “Diego Vecino” Tellez Cobos, on the grounds of its potential repercussions for U.S.-Colombian relations.
Santos said that although he respects the decisions of the Court, he hopes its rulings will coincide with the best interests of the Colombian government and its agreement to co-operate with the United States.
El Tiempo reports that U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield has also responded to the Supreme Court’s decision, saying “We are going to study the decision and learn from it so as to ensure that future requests are approved.”
The court said that its denial of the extradition request was based on concerns that extraditing paramilitary leaders prevents their versions of the truth on atrocities committed by Colombian paramilitary groups from being heard.
Ex-paramilitary leader Diego Vecino is wanted by a New York district court on drug trafficking charges.
There are ongoing concerns that Colombia’s Justice and Peace process – in which former paramilitaries are given reduced sentences in exchange for collaborating with justice – is too slow.
A report published on Tuesday by Berkeley University was the latest in a series of criticisms that paramilitary extraditions are leading to extradited paramilitaries enjoying impunity for human rights abuses they committed while in Colombia.