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Victims and human rights groups protest extraditions of Colombian ex-paramilitaries

May 14, 2008 |  9:29 am

Mario_uribe_2 Victim and human rights groups in Colombia say that the surprise extradition of 14 imprisoned paramilitary leaders to the United States on Tuesday will deny them justice for the crimes the warlords committed against their loved ones. Could it also be an attempt to distract attention from the president's cousin, who is under arrest on suspicion of dealing under the table with right-wing paramilitary groups?

Reporting from Colombia, Chris Kraul writes:

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said the extraditions would deprive victims of a full accounting of the slayings, extortions and land grabs that caused widespread misery for several years before the demobilization agreement.

The Miami Herald writes:

Victims' families fear the extraditions will impede efforts to fully catalog the warlords' crimes, unearth scores of mass graves and bring to justice the politicians and businessmen who colluded with them.

The extraditions will be interpreted by some as part of President Alvaro Uribe's push to prevent the rearming of the right-wing paramilitaries in the country.

Others might see the move as an attempt to distract the world's attention from the scandal engulfing Uribe's boyhood friend, cousin and close political ally Mario Uribe (pictured), who was arrested at the end of April, charged with criminal conspiracy in alleged dealings with outlawed paramilitary groups -- read our report here.

Photo: The charges against Mario Uribe move the "para-political" scandal closer to the president's office.
(AFP/Getty Images)