Caracas, August 19, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Alleged Colombian paramilitary Leiver Padilla (alias "El Colombia") has been formally charged by Venezuelan prosecutors with the murder of the young socialist parliamentarian Robert Serra and his partner Maria Herrera.
The dual Colombian-Venezuelan citizen is accused of leading a group of eight man believed to be behind the October 1st assassination of Serra and Herrera in their Caracas residence last year.
Padilla was extradited from Colombia in late May on the orders of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, which came nearly seven months after his November 2nd arrest in Cartagena de Indias.
During a hearing at the 9th Court of the Caracas Metropolitan Area, a judge evaluated the evidence presented the Public Prosecutor's office, charging Padilla with premeditated homicide and criminal conspiracy and ordering that he face trial.
Ten other men have already been charged for their role in the crime and are currently facing trial. Among the accused are various police officials as well as Serra's chief bodyguard, Eduwin Jose Torres Camacho.
Venezuelan authorities have long pointed to the Colombian right and its paramilitary allies as the key actors behind the assassination, noting that shortly before his death, Serra had been conducting an investigation into the young extreme right militant Lorent Saleh, who is a close ally of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
As the country's youngest ever parliamentarian, Serra was deeply revered by the Venezuelan people and was widely predicted to become one of the top leaders of the PSUV. His murder sent shockwaves across the country, prompting thousands to take to the streets against "fascist paramilitarism".
Undoubtedly, the unfolding trial of Leiver Padilla will be closely followed by the Venezuelan public.