Colombia’s former agriculture, who fled the country before being sentenced to 17 years in prison for embezzlement, will hear Friday whether the United States will extradite him or grant him political asylum.
Former minister Andres Felipe Arias is currently in jail in Miami, Florida, where he was arrested on Wednesday, two years after Colombia asked Washington for the arrest and extradition of the corrupt former official.
Arias has appealed his arrest and demands immigration authorities speak out about his request for political asylum.
According to the former minister, he did commit the embezzlement for which he was sentenced by Colombia;s Supreme Court but is the victim of a political persecution.
He made this claim when, handcuffed and all, he appeared before a Miami court hours after his arrest.
The sitting judge called for a second hearing on Friday to decide whether Arias’ request for political asylum is legit or whether he will be extradited to Colombia to serve his 17 years in prison.
Arias, a.k.a. “Little Uribe,” was sentenced to 17 years in prison in 2014 after the Supreme Court found him guilty of embezzling more than $20 million in public funds meant for poor farmers.
Instead, the money was funneled to wealthy families and political allies under the watch of Arias and ultimately Uribe, who was president at the time of the embezzlement.
Instead of facing his penalty, Arias fled the country and filed a request for political asylum in the US.
Until Wednesday, members of Uribe’s battered opposition party, the Democratic Center, had falsely claimed that Arias had already received this asylum.