Colombian and Ecuadorean attempts to normalize relations suffered a setback Friday when news broke that an Ecuadorean judge had requested to extradite Colombia’s former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe immediately expressed his support for the former Defense head.
According to Spanish press agency EFE, a judge from the north Ecuadorean province of Sucumbius sent an official request to the National Court of Justice to start extradition proceedings aimed to force Santos to appear before the court and respond to his alleged personal responsibility for the death of 26 people in the bombing of a FARC camp in 2008.
The bombing killed the rebels’ number two, ‘Raul Reyes’, an Ecuadorean national and four Mexican students. The cross-border attack, carried out without the concent of Ecuadorean authorities, forced Ecuador to break relations with Colombia.
The Foreign Ministers of both countries openly committed to the normalization of relations in September and are set to meet on October 9 to find ways to mend relations, but the extradition proceedings immediately caused tension between teh two neighbors.
In a response to the news, the Colombian President said his government “has the full determination to protect our officials, our ministers, the ex-Minister and the high command.”
According to Ecuadorean newspaper Hoy, the request to start the extradition procedure has been on the desk of Ecuador’s national Court of Justice for over a week and is currently being studied by its magistrates.
Juan Manuel Santos was Minister of Defense until earlier this year. He is now a candidate for the 2010 presidency, but has said he will only run for the presidency if Uribe is not allowed or not willing to run for a third term.