Colombia extradites 14 paramilitaries to US

May 14th, 2008 - 12:50 am ICT by admin  

Bogota, May 13 (DPA) Colombia Tuesday extradited to the US 14 commanders of extreme-right paramilitary groups who were suspected of drug trafficking. The extraditions were made possible because the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe expelled the paramilitaries from a re-insertion programme that afforded them privileges under special legislation.

The controversial Law for Justice and Peace gave the leaders of the paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) - which has now mostly demobilised - relatively mild penalties, of up to eight years in jail and protection from extradition.

The paramilitaries who were extradited Tuesday were said to have violated some of the provisions of the law, and Colombian Interior and Justice Minister Carlos Holguin said they were suspected of drug trafficking.

According to Colombian media, they had failed to provide reparations for their victims and they continued to commit crimes from jail.

Relatives of some of the thousands of civilian victims of the paramilitaries had tried to prevent their extradition. They fear that they may now never get the compensation from the paramilitaries’ assets under the law.

According to human rights organisations, the paramilitaries are responsible for the deaths of at least 9,000 people, including civilians, leftist leaders, trade unionists and peasants.

The former paramilitaries expelled from the agreement face extradition or up to 40 years in jail in Colombia, according to the country’s criminal code.

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