Venezuela Asks Interpol to Help Capture Terror Suspects Seeking Asylum in the US

Venezuelan authorities requested help from Interpol for the capture of anti-government rebels facing terrorism charges. The suspects are seeking US political asylum. Anti-terror treaty may force US to deport terrorists.

Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 30 ( Venezuelan police authorities have requested the cooperation of Interpol in the United States for the capture of fugitive anti-government military rebels German Rodolfo Varela and Jose Antonio Colina.

The rebels have been charged in connection with the terrorist attacks to the Embassy of Spain and the Consulate of Colombia in Caracas, on February 26, 2003.

Both Varela and Colina are part of a group of rebel military officers who openly oppose the government of President Hugo Chavez, and who set up a protest camp at the Francia Square in the affluent eastern Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, to give anti-government speeches and make calls to overthrow the President.

According to a report by the El Nuevo Herald of Miami, the two officers managed to elude Venezuelan police authorities and escaped to Colombia. Later, on December 19th, they arrived in the US in a flight coming from Bogota, Colombia, and requested political asylum in Miami. They remain under the custody of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

Suspects charged with “terrorism”

According to the public prosecutor in charge of the case, Danilo Anderson, the main reason for the arrest orders against the two suspects was the testimony given last November by Silvio Daniel Merida, who was one of the bodyguards of the accused. Merida, who confessed helping set up the bombs, described in detail all the planning of the attacks and how the bombs were detonated via cell phone by Colina and Varela. Investigators determined that C4 explosives were used in the attacks.

Víctor Ramos Salas, a state authority of the scientific police CICPC, confirmed that the two suspects, who fled to the US, were charged with “terrorism”.

Another military rebel, retired General Nestor Gonzalez Gonzalez, was also accused by Merida, but the Attorney General’s office is seeking to collect more evidence before issuing an arrest order.

Both Varela and Colina argue that they cannot face a fair trial under the current political climate in Venezuela. However, anti-Chavez military officers and civilians have had favorable sentences in Venezuelan courts in recent times. After the coup d’etat of April of 2002, the Supreme Tribunal exonerated of all charges the dissident military officers involved in the ousting of President Chavez.

Treaties may force US to deport suspected terrorists

Venezuela has recently ratified several international treaties, including the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism sponsored by the Organization of the American States (OAS). All OAS members, including the United States, have ratified the treaty.

The purpose of the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism is to prevent, punish, and eliminate terrorism. To that end, the states parties agree to adopt the necessary measures and to strengthen cooperation among them, in accordance with the terms of the Convention.

Earlier this year, Venezuela complained about terrorist acts being planned in the state of Florida against the Venezuelan government and President Chavez. Chavez has accused the U.S. of not doing enough against terrorists operating in North American territory. Chavez cancelled his trip to the UN General Assembly Ordinary Meeting, after intelligence reports uncovered a possible plot to assassinate him.

The existence of training camps run by former Venezuelan military personnel living in the United States has been recently documented by the Miami Herald, which published a report with photos of Venezuelan government opponents wearing military uniforms training with anti-Castro militants.

Last January, The Wall Street Journal reported that dissident Venezuelan Capt. Luis Eduardo Garcia claimed he was providing military training for some 50 members of the F-4 Commandos, 30 of them Cuban-Americans, the rest Venezuelans, in a shooting range close to the Florida Everglades. “We are preparing for war,” he said.

“We will wait and see what will be the response of the US government to those [asylum] requests,” said President Chavez during a speech on Monday. Chavez hopes that international treaties are honored and that those accused of terrorism are deported to Venezuela to face trial.

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