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Colombia faces hassle over extradition of former congresswoman from Venezuela

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Colombia faces hassle over extradition of former congresswoman from Venezuela

Colombia is planning to ask Venezuela’s opposition to extradite a former Colombian congresswoman who was jailed for electoral fraud and staged a spectacular escape in 2019.

“Colombia does not recognise and does not have relations with the dictatorial regime of President Nicolas Maduro, we, therefore, need to request extradition from the government of Juan Guaido,’’ the Justice Ministry tweeted on Tuesday.

Opposition leader Guaido, who is currently on an international tour, declared himself interim president a year ago and won the recognition of dozens of countries, including Colombia.

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But he has been unable to wrestle power from Maduro, who has the support of the army and whose police arrested the legislator, Aida Merlano.

Miguel Dominguez, the director of the Venezuelan elite police unit FAES, on Monday, announced the capture of the former congresswoman in the north-eastern city of Maracaibo, where she was reportedly living under a false identity.

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But the Colombian Justice Ministry said it was still waiting for official confirmation from Interpol that she has been arrested.

Colombia had issued an international arrest warrant for Merlano, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for buying votes in the 2018 elections in which she was elected to the Senate for the Conservative Party.

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In October, Merlano was taken to a dental clinic, where she climbed out of a second-storey window, slid down on a rope and escaped on a motorcycle which had been waiting for her.

Guaido did not immediately comment on the extradition request with which, Colombian observers said, the opposition has no power to comply.

 

NAN

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