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LATIN AMERICA | 28-01-2020 15:12

Colombia seeks extradition of senator arrested in Venezuela

Colombian Justice Ministry has little chance to return Aida Merlano to Colombia, given its recognition of Juan Guaidó as rightful head of state.

Colombian officials are seeking the extradition of a former senator who was arrested in Venezuela after escaping from prison four months ago.

But the prospects of returning Aida Merlano to her jail cell in Colombia any time soon are slim, since Colombia doesn't recognise President Nicolás Maduro, who controls Venezuela's government.

Colombia's Justice Ministry said Tuesday that it will process Merlano's extradition request with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is recognised as that nation's interim president by more than 50 countries, including Colombia and the United States, but who has no practical authority.

Merlano escaped from custody in October by jumping out of a window during a trip from prison to a dentist's office, and speeding away on a motorcycle.

She had been convicted of overseeing a vote-buying operation and is believed to have information that links powerful politicians to corruption scandals.

Guaidó, the man recognised by many as Venezuela’s rightful leader met today with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. "This is not one man's fight. This is a fight of all Venezuelans, and we are receiving clear support,'' Guaidó said, standing next to Champagne as he thanked Canada for its continuing support.

He met late Monday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called Guaidó the interim president of Venezuela.

– AP

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