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Venezuela court authorizes extradition request for Serra murder suspect

Caracas, (EFE).- The Venezuelan Supreme Court, or TSJ, has authorized the extradition request for Leiver Padilla Mendoza, suspected of assassinating Chavista lawmaker Robert Serra and his assistant, and who was arrested in Colombia last Nov. 2.

The TSJ announced Friday in a communique that it had “declared applicable the request to the Republic of Colombia for the extradition of Leiver Padilla Mendoza on suspicion of committing the crime of aggravated homicide…against legislator Robert Serra and Maria Herrera.”

The court said that alias “El Colombia” is suspected of committing the crimes of “aggravated armed robbery,” “premeditated first-degree murder” and “association to commit crime.”

In the accusation, the court, according to the text, “assumes the firm commitment before the government of the Republic of Colombia that Leiver Padilla Mendoza will be tried for the crimes stated above, with all due and fundamental guarantees.”

According to Venezuelan Interior Minister Carmen Melendez, Padilla Mendoza “is one of the most important” suspects because “he was the leader (of those who committed the crime).”

An international red alert had been issued by Interpol for “El Colombia,” who, according to Venezuelan authorities, led the gang of eight men in Serra’s murder.

According to Melendez, the suspect was arrested last week by agents of the Criminal Investigation Administration, or Dijin, of the National Police in Colombia, where he is believed to have sought refuge after the double crime.

Serra was assassinated at his home together with his assistant last Oct. 1, a crime that, according to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, was politically motivated and was executed by Colombian paramilitaries.

Last week Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega reported that 10 people have been arrested for the slaying of the Chavista lawmaker and his assistant.

Venezuelan autorities have said that among those implicated in the killing of Serra and Herrera are at least two police officials of that country, one of whom was chief of congressional security.

At the outset of the investigations, the Venezuelan president accused former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and “criminals” protected by the U.S. government of being the masterminds behind the homicide, for which, he said, they paid $500,000.

However, in the latest declarations by Venezuelan authorities, no formal or direct accusations against the former Colombian president have been made