Thursday, April 20, 2006

Venezuela blasts US decision not to extradite bombing suspects

CARACAS, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing the United States for not deporting two Venezuelans linked to 2003 bomb attacks on the Colombian and Spanish embassies in Caracas.

The decision not to extradite Jose Antonio Colina and German Varela, who were former Venezuelan national guard officers, showed that Washington believed "there is good terrorism and bad terrorism", Rodriguez said in the statement.

On April 12, a U.S. court declined to extradite Colina and Varela, currently held at a U.S. immigration center in Houston, in the U.S. state of Texas, saying that they might be persecuted or tortured.

Rodriguez said that the torture allegations were a "pretext", noting that there were no cases of torture under President Hugo Chavez's seven-year rule.

Caracas would demand that international and bilateral accords on extradition be observed and the two bombing suspects returned to Venezuela, said Rodriguez.

Colina and Valera fled in December 2003 to the United States and sought political asylum there after the Venezuelan attorney general charged them, alongside other officials, with the 2003 bombings.

Rodriguez added that U.S. courts had taken a similar line as in the case of Luis Posada Carriles, a Venezuelan citizen wanted for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airline, which left all 73 aboard dead.