Venezuela prosecutor opposes extradition of rebel

AP News
Posted: Dec 22, 2011 4:52 PM
Venezuela prosecutor opposes extradition of rebel

Venezuela's top prosecutor said Thursday that she doesn't think Colombia has provided a proper request for the extradition of a Colombian rebel commander who was captured in Venezuela.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega said she has provided her opinion to the Supreme Court, which will decide on Colombia's extradition request.

Guillermo Torres Cueter, better known by the alias "Julian Conrado," was captured in southwestern Venezuela in May, and the authorities say he is a commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Ortega told state television that the accusations Colombia cited in its extradition request were "different from the crimes on which he is wanted."

Colombian officials did not immediately react to Ortega's announcement.

The authorities have described Torres as the most senior FARC commander captured since 2004 in Venezuela.

He is wanted by Colombian authorities on charges of homicide, kidnapping and rebellion.

The U.S. government had also offered a $2.5 million reward for information leading to Torres' capture. The U.S. State Department said he participated in directing the FARC's production and distribution of cocaine bound for the United States and other countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in June that Torres' capture indicated that cooperation between Venezuela and neighboring Colombia was producing positive results. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also praised Torres' capture, which was carried out by Venezuelan authorities with help from Colombian officials.

Chavez has not recently expressed an opinion on Torres' fate.

Venezuela's Communist Party, which is allied with Chavez's government, presented a request for political asylum on Torres' behalf in August. The party called his capture illegal, saying he had been working as a farmer in Venezuela and wasn't armed.

Communist Party leader Pedro Eusse said at the time that Torres expressed fears he could be tortured or killed if sent back to Colombia. Eusse also said Torres' had a problem with his prostate and that his health troubles should weigh in favor of the asylum request.

Ortega said officials were checking on Torres' health.

Yul Jabour, another leading member of the Communist Party, praised the attorney general's decision on Thursday and said the party now hopes the authorities will rule on the asylum request.