The Colombian government is demanding that the U.S. return a former commander of a right-wing militia who completed a 12-year cocaine trafficking sentence in March, the Associated Press reports. Salvatore Mancuso remains in U.S. custody as his native country fights a U.S. order to send Mancuso to Italy, where he holds dual citizenship.
Mancuso’s lawyers contend he would be killed if he returns to a South American country that has struggled to heal from decades of bloody conflict. They argue he has already fulfilled his obligations under a 2003 peace deal he negotiated, which caps prison terms at eight years for paramilitary bosses who confess their crimes. Mancuso’s many victims say they still have not received justice and that denying their request to return Mancuso to Colombia would only add to the injustice. Mancuso was among the highest profile drug defendants extradited by Colombia to face charges in the U.S. Although American prosecutors intervened in June to side with Colombian demands for Mancuso’s return, Colombia later withdrew that request, apparently having been outmaneuvered by Mancuso’s Miami lawyer, Joaquin Perez. That leaves in place an April order by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to send Mancuso to Italy.