Caracas, May 6, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos issued an executive order on Wednesday authorizing the extradition of the man whom Venezuelan authorities hold responsible for the assassination of young chavista parliamentarian Robert Serra and his partner Maria Herrera in October.
Known by his criminal alias “el Colombia”, the dual Venezuelan-Colombian citizen Leiver Padilla Mendoza was apprehended in Cartagena on November 5 after Venezuelan authorities issued an interpol request for his capture and extradition.
Following an April 30 ruling by the Colombian Supreme Court authorizing the alleged assassin’s extradition, the move by the Colombian head of state opens the way for Mendoza to be turned over to Venezuelan custody within hours.
Mendoza and his accomplices were allegedly paid a sum of $500,000 by a Colombian paramilitary group for the assassination of Serra and Herrera in their residence on October 1.
Venezuelan authorities have arrested ten others for their role in the murder, including Serra’s chief bodyguard Torres Camacho, and solicited the capture of four others via Interpol.
The assassination of Serra (27), the country’s youngest ever parliamentarian, sent ripples through Venezuelan society, prompting thousands to take to the streets against “fascist paramilitarism”.
For his part, President Nicolas Maduro emphatically condemned the assassination as part of a broader plot by the “Venezuelan ultra-right” to overthrow the Bolivarian government, alleging the involvement of far right Colombian ex-president Alvaro Uribe, who retains close ties with both Colombian paramilitaries and the Venezuelan opposition.
The assassination was also denounced by UNASUR secretary general and former Colombian president Ernesto Samper, for whom the murder represented “a worrying sign of the infiltration of Colombian paramilitarism” in Venezuela.
Colombian paramilitary violence has increasingly spilled over into Venezuela in recent years, a reality which was further confirmed on Monday with the discovery of twelve bodies in a mass grave 2.5 miles from the Colombian border.
The Venezuelan government is yet to issue a public statement in response to the measure taken by its Colombian counterpart.