Venezuela Asks U.S. to Detain Asylum-Seeking Terrorism Suspects for Extradition

The government of Venezuela formally requested U.S. authorities the detention of Venezuelan military officers seeking asylum in Miami, allegedly involved in the bombing of diplomatic missions in Caracas

Caracas, Venezuela. Jan 28 ( The government of Venezuela requested today that the U.S. Department of State detain retired Venezuelan National Guard lieutenants José Antonio Colina Pulido and German Rodolfo Varela, as a precautionary measure in preparation for their extradition to Venezuela, according to a press release from the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington.

The detention request is based on Title IV of the Venezuelan Code of Criminal Procedure, for the officers alleged involvement in the attacks against the diplomatic missions of Spain and Colombia and the Teleport Building on February 2003 in Caracas.

Officials from the Consular Section of the Embassy of Venezuela in Washington, D.C., presented the required documents for the extradition, along with English translations, to Haley Collums, official from the Legal Office of the Department of State, the office that normally receives such requests.

Colina and Varela, who belong to a group of military officials that rebelled against the Venezuelan government, eluded Venezuelan authorities and escaped to neighboring Colombia, from which they later traveled to Miami to ask for political asylum. The rebels base their request on suffering from “political persecution” in Venezuela. They remain under custody of U.S. immigration authorities at the Krome Penitentiary Center in Florida, USA.

A warrant of arrest was issued for the two former military officials on November 14, 2003, by Judge 11 of Control of the Criminal Circuit Court, Deyanira Bastidas, in Caracas, based on the “presumed commission of a crime against persons, against public order and against public and private interests.” 

In order to request the extradition, the judge residing over the case presented a petition for extradition to the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela and at the same time sent an International Arrest Order. With these documents and a brief summary of facts upon which the petition is based, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry requested to US authorities the precautionary detention of these citizens in preparation for extradition.

Documents presented

The documents presented to the U.S. Department of State included part of the evidence provided by the Venezuelan police to the courts. Colina and Varela were part of a group of military officials who declared themselves in rebellion and held a rebel camp of protest at the Altamira Plaza in Caracas.

Based on the evidence provided by the Scientific, Criminal and Penal Investigations Department and the Department of Intelligence and Prevention Services, they are also involved in various terrorist attacks perpetrated during 2002 and 2003. The terrorist attacks include the bombing of the Spanish Embassy and the Colombian Consulate in Caracas. The bombs that exploded simultaneously in these diplomatic missions were activated by mobile phone by lieutenants Colina and Varela.

During a press conference by Venezuelan officials on November 23, 2003, in which the Ambassadors of Spain and Algeria and the General Consul of Colombia participated, details were given as to where the assailants bought the mobile telephones a few days before the attacks, and how they used them to activate the bombs. Authorities were able to trace the approximate location of the calls through cell tower records.

The diplomatic missions were destroyed from the impact of the explosions and structural damage was caused to neighboring buildings, where several people were injured.

Treaties may force US to deport suspected terrorists

Last week, Venezuelan Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel reacted to comments by the US State Department Coordinator for counter-terrorism, Joseph Cofer Black, with regard to Venezuela’s cooperation in the so called “war on terrorism”. Black said at a press conference that Venezuela has room to improve in its cooperating on the fight against terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. Rangel demanded “reciprocity” from the U.S. and urged them to take actions aginast the Venezuelan terrorist suspects.

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.


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