Venezuela’s government extradited convicted former Congresswoman Aida Merlano to Colombia where she is a key witness in high-profile corruption cases.
Merlano spent the past three years in custody in Venezuela where she had fled after a spectacular jailbreak in October 2019.
The former Conservative Party congresswoman has since made damning allegations about political corruption in Colombia and the Caribbean region in particular.
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While in Venezuela, Merlano testified against former Senate President Arturo Char, who is being investigated by the Supreme Court for allegedly buying votes in the 2018 elections.
The Char Clan has almost absolute power in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla and the surrounding Atlantico province, and controls multiple congressmen of the Radical Change party.
Inspector General Margarita Cabello, who is supposed to investigate political corruption, is an associate of the clan.
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After her arrival in Bogota, Merlano was detained and sent to a detention center to continue serving her 15-year prison sentence.
The former congresswoman has admitted she was involved in election fraud, but also surrendered compelling evidence to confirm her claim she was set up by former Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez, one of the founders of Radical Change.
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Martinez has been involved in a series of corruption and white collar crime scandals ever while he was chief prosecutor between 2016 and 2019.
Merlano wasn’t deported previously because former President Ivan Duque requested her extradition to Venezuela’s opposition.
Duque is another politician who has been accused of corruption by the former lawmaker, who has claimed her prison break was coordinated by the Char Clan with the purpose to assassinate her.
Merlano’s return is expected to expediate investigations into the alleged corruption practices of the Char Clan and their allies in politics.