A US federal judge ordered the extradition of Colombia’s former agriculture minister on Thursday. The former official’s attorneys vowed to appeal the decision.
The extradition had been requested by Colombia after former Minister Andres Felipe Arias (Conservative Party) was convicted to 17 years in prison for illegally funneling millions of dollars in agriculture subsidies to wealthy political allies.
The former minister fled Colombia to the United States weeks before his conviction.
According to the Miami Herald, the United States embassy in Bogota extended Arias’ tourist visa while on trial, ignoring a 2004 presidential proclamation barring foreign officials suspected of corruption from entering the US.
Arias and his defense have claimed the sentence was politically motivated and that the extradition treaty between the two countries was invalid.
These arguments, however, were rejected by the US federal judge who ordered Arias’ extradition.
Arias’ lawyers told the Miami Herald they would appeal the decision on the same grounds, effectively barring the former minister’s immediate extradition.
We will continue fighting for Minister Arias — his bogus Colombian conviction was rendered by a politicized and corrupt court. And his extradition is being requested when there is no treaty.
Attorneys David Oscar Markus and Lauren Doyle via Miami Herald
The former agriculture minister is one of many top Colombian officials currently convicted or being investigated for crimes ranging from bribery to homicide.
More are expected to be charged before a transitional justice court that is part of an ongoing peace process between the state and the FARC, the Marxist guerrilla group that was at war with the state between 1964 and 2016.