Who Is Israel’s Yair Klein and What Was He Doing in Colombia and Sierra Leone?
Rights court halts mercenary's extradition
* David Pallister
* The Guardian,
* Tuesday June 3 2008
A notorious Israeli mercenary has successfully appealed to the European court of human rights to postpone his extradition from Russia to Colombia, where he faces an 11-year jail sentence for training rightwing paramilitaries and a private army for the drug barons of the Medellín cartel.
Yair Klein, 64, a reserve lieutenant colonel in the Israel defence forces (IDF)and a veteran of the six-day and Yom Kippur wars, has done business with armed groups in Latin America and Africa for 25 years. He has spent nine months in a Moscow prison but last week the Russian supreme court ordered that the extradition go ahead. Klein's Russian lawyer turned to the human rights court for a temporary stay on the grounds that he could suffer ill-treatment if sent to Bogotá. There were also concerns about the fairness of the 2001 trial, which sentenced him in absentia. During the hearing he said: "Extradition to Colombia would mean a death sentence."
While the court deliberates - which could take months - Klein's supporters in Israel, who consider him a war hero, will continue to campaign for his return. His Israeli lawyer, Mordechai Tsivin, said: "In Israel his arrival would be great joy.