A Colombian court sentenced Yara Gal Klein, also known as Yair, in absentia in 2001 to 10 years in jail for training paramilitaries in the South American country.A former Israeli army officer, he was detained in August as he landed at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. He has said the Colombian military knew about his paramilitary training activities.Klein denied committing any crime and said he was sure the case was politicised. He addressed the court in Hebrew by video link, which was then translated into Russian.He said he also feared for his safety in a Colombian jail.”Colombia is the only country where the removal of organs is permitted and conducted. The majority of these organs are the result of murders in the prison where I will be imprisoned,” Klein said.Colombia had asked Russia to extradite Klein to serve his sentence, where the disarming of illegal paramilitaries has helped ease years of violence.Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni lobbied her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov four months ago for Klein to be transferred to his homeland instead of being extradited, the Jerusalem Post reported on its Web site.Colombia’s paramilitary movement began in the 1980s when wealthy landowners banded together for protection against kidnapping and extortion by leftist guerrillas in rural areas.But the militias soon turned to drug trafficking and kidnapping as they snatched land and killed peasants in the name of counter-insurgency.Aided by billions of dollars of U.S. funding, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has led a crackdown on rebels and negotiated the disarmament of the paramilitary movement. The rebels are still fighting, aided by money from the drug trade.
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