Maturin, December 23rd 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Public Ministry has formally recommended that the extradition of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) member Guillermo Torres Cueter (aka Julian Conrado) to Colombia not be carried out, on both legal and human rights grounds.
Conrado, who is wanted by both Colombian and US authorities and currently has an extradition request pending on him by Colombia, was arrested in Venezuela by Venezuelan authorities on 31 May this year. Known as “the Singer”, the Colombian leftist and protest musician has composed over 100 songs including the FARC anthem “from my village to the guerrilla”.
Two months after his capture, in a smuggled letter dated 20 July from his imprisonment in Venezela, he requested asylum in Venezuela, stating he had fled from Colombia in fear of his life. In August the Venezuelan Communist Party, who have protested against his capture, presented a formal request for his political asylum.
Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz explained on Venezuela public television this week that Venezuela’s Supreme Court (TSJ) is to decide on the extradition of Conrado to Colombia, and as part of this judicial process the Public Ministry has formally submitted its opinion that “the extradition shouldn’t proceed.”
Part of the reason for this is that there is a legal disjuncture where “the reasons for the extradition request are different from the crimes for which he [Conrado] is wanted [in Colombia].”
AFP reports that Colombian authorities want to charge Conrado with homicide, kidnapping and rebellion.
Diaz further pointed out that that extradition couldn’t proceed on human rights grounds if Conrado was to be charged with a crime carrying the death penalty, as Venezuelan legislation protects human rights and the right to life. “If the crime for which someone is to be extradited carries the death penalty, they aren’t extradited,” she confirmed.
Finally, she stated that a legal representative of the state has been sent to verify Conrado’s state of health.
Colombian authorities have not commented on the Public Ministry’s statement.
In his July letter, Conrado complained that since his capture his human rights had not been recognised, he had not been able to release a statement, and that he was suffering from a prostate condition.
After his arrest Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez defended the measure on the basis that Venezuela was fulfilling its international obligations, in this case an Interpol “code red” on Conrado.
Sections of the Venezuelan and international left have questioned the Venezuelan government’s policy of collaborating with Colombian authorities in their decades long war against the FARC, including the arrest and deporting to Colombia in April this year the Colombian alternative journalist Joaquín Pérez Becerra, who was granted political asylum in Sweden in 2000.