The US has begun the process of extraditing Andres Felipe Arias, the former Colombian minister sentenced to 17 years in prison for embezzling $25 million in government funds.
The US Supreme Court unanimously decided to transfer of Arias’ case to the Ministery of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice on Wednesday, although his asylum request is still pending investigation.
Arias fled Colombia after he was found guilty of embezzling over $25 million through an agricultural subsidy program called Agro Ingreso Seguro (AIS) under the Uribe administration.. Arias filed a request for asylum in Florida on July 7, arguing that he was being politically persecuted.
Arias was nowhere to be found at the time of his June sentencing, leading to suspicions that he escaped the country to avoid imprisonment, as had former intelligence director Maria del Pilar Hurtado, who also served under ex-President Alvaro Uribe.
Colombia’s Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez banned Arias from political office for 16 years after the scandal broke. Upon his return to Colombia, Arias will be facing 17 years, 5 months and 8 days in prison.
- Corte inicia trámite de extradición de Arias (Semana Magazine)