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France rejects Chile’s request for the extradition of a leftist militant

A French court has rejected Chile’s request of extradition for a leftist militant, who was previously imprisoned over the assassination of an ally of Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Paris’s Court of Appeals refused to extradite Ricardo Palma Salamanca in a decision made on Wednesday, following France’s Office for the Protection of Refugees (Ofpra) granting Ricardo Palma Salamanca political asylum last November, despite pleas from Chile for his extradition.

Chile had imprisoned Salamanca for the murder of Senator Jaime Guzman, a key confidant of Pinochet. He was imprisoned in a maximum security prison and had two life sentences but made a remarkable escape in a metal basket dangling from a helicopter in 1996. Following his escape he fled to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and changed his name. He was captured again by Interpol in Paris in February 2018.

His arrest over the assassination has been contested, after it emerged that Chilean authorities allegedly extracted a confession through torture.

Chile’s current president Sebastian Pinera had sent a personal letter to France’s Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron and also filed an appeal for Salamanca’s return. Speaking on this issue Chile’s foreign minister, Roberto Ampuero called France’s decision “incomprehensible”.  He further stated, “It is not in line with the principles and standards of international law.”

Ofpra refused to comment on the case as it stated that it was policy not to comment on individual decisions to grant asylum.

Reuters meanwhile noted that Chile and France do not have an extradition treaty and that French law states that an extradition cannot take place “when the crime has a political aspect or the request is made for political purposes.”

See more from Reuters here and VoA here.