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Colombia will press Russia for the extradition of an Israeli national
Colombia will press Russia for the extradition of an Israeli national accused by Bogota of conspiracy to commit terrorism despite a Strasbourg court ban, a Colombian paper said Thursday citing an official.

The European Court of Human Rights prohibited Russia on Wednesday from extraditing Yair Klein, a former colonel in the Israeli army who faces almost 11 years in prison in Colombia on charges of training members of drug barons' private armies and paramilitary groups.

"The Strasbourg court's decision to prohibit Russia from extraditing Israeli national Yair Klein is a preliminary measure, which needs explanations," Tiempo quoted Colombian Deputy Justice Minister Guillermo Reyes.

Reyes said the extradition had been allowed by a Russian court and approved by the Supreme Court.

Russia's Supreme Court rejected last week an appeal by Klein's defense, which said the defendant was being persecuted for political motives, the five-year time limit for the sentence to be enforced had expired and that he could be tortured in Colombia. The defense appealed to the Strasbourg court.

Klein's Russian lawyer said on Wednesday the European Court of Human Rights banned the extradition "pending its further instructions."

Klein, who ran a private security company called Spearhead Ltd, was captured by Interpol in Moscow last August on an international arrest warrant on charges of criminal conspiracy in terrorism. Colombia's government requested his extradition.

Klein denied in interviews ever working with cocaine cartels, but admitted instructing far-right death squads. He said he was originally hired - with the Colombian Defense Ministry's blessing - to organize security for the banana industry in the northern region of Uraba.

Israeli media earlier reported that Klein spent 16 months in a Sierra Leon prison between 1999 and 2000 for smuggling arms to rebels from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF).


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