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Spanish Court Approves Extradition

April 19, 2002

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ A Spanish court has ordered the extradition of a former Colombian development minister wanted in his home country for the massacre of 20 farmers who were squatters on a ranch in 1996.

Carlos Arturo Marulanda, who also was a former ambassador to the European Union, has been in Spanish custody since he was apprehended last July on a Colombian arrest warrant issued two years after the killings.

His extradition was approved Thursday by a three-judge chamber of the Nation Court and must still be ratified by Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar’s Cabinet. No date has been given for that decision.

Marulanda is wanted in Colombia for alleged ties to the group that killed the 20 farmers, who had occupied a ranch in Cesar department in northeast Colombia. The killings forced 200 families who had worked on the land to flee.

He also is wanted for corruption during his ambassadorship. The court ruled in favor of extradition on both counts.

Marulanda was development minister in the late 1980s. He resigned his diplomatic post in 1997 amid protests by European and Colombian human rights groups over his and his family’s suspected links to death squads. The government had said the resignation was for personal reasons.

Several people have been arrested in the 1996 killings, including a brother of Marulanda.

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