JUSTICE | 11/20/2010 12:00:00 AM
He escaped from us
A statement made by Vice President Francisco Santos buried any chance to bring the mercenary Yair Klein in extradition
Yair Klein was convicted by the Colombian justice for having both conformed and instructed paramilitary groups, as well as for criminal conspiracies related to crimes against humanity. There’s plenty of evidence that links him to the assassination of the ‘Patriotic Union’ leaders, a left winging movement that after the criminal campaign against it back in the 1980’s and 90’s, was finally demolished. Other evidence proves his responsibility at introducing new techniques to local criminality, such as aircraft blasting and remote-control handling of explosives, among others.
According to his lawyer, Mordejai Tzivin, the decision at the European Court of Human Rights will very likely let Klein be deported to Israel, "be free" and "not spend a day more day in jail". Therefore, this decision has aroused the criticism of those who consider the sentence is contrary to the highest European court’s spirit. This organ, which was created under an international treaty, is the highest authority on human rights for 47 countries, most of them in the European Community, but also for others like Russia.
The court’s denial is based on the third article of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits the extradition of individuals to a country where these would be under any risk of being subjected to "torture, punishment or degrading or inhuman treatment". Klein’s lawyers claim that if he gets extradited to Colombia, his life would be jeopardized. The mercenary’s defense susteined its request in a statement made by then Vice President Francisco Santos, who said that Klein "should rot in a Colombian jail". Those who have closely followed the case believe that this statement was decisive for the high court to accept that the lack of guarantees of the Colombian prison system was evident.
The decision produced widespread outrage. "I’d like to protest about the sentence made by the Court at Strasbourg, which prohibited Yair Klein’s extradition to Colombia," said President Juan Manuel Santos having just heard the content. German Vargas Lleras, Minister of Interior and Justice, expressed his surprise at the lack of judicial cooperation with the country against an individual who has committed serious crimes.
The fact that the international justice has applied this prohibition in Klein’s case is, in opinion of those who have followed the latter, the constant paradox of the fight against impunity: the perpetrator, who installed a reign of terror in Colombia, now claims that this country doesn’t guarantee protection for his fundamental rights. If what the lawyer says is true and Klein travels to Israel, it’s legally very difficult to re-order his transfer to Colombia, since the Israeli law severely limits the extradition of its nationals. Thus, this ruling may have closed definitively any chance for the controversial mercenary to pay for what he did in Colombia.