- According to Barr, Maduro and FARC are planning to “flood the United States with cocaine.”
- It is extremely unusual to charge a sitting head of state for any crime.
- Mullah Krekar, who was convicted of terror-related charges in Italy last year, has now been handed over by Norway.
The United States Department of Justice has indicted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for “narcoterrorism.” The US Attorney General William Barr made the announcement on Thursday. The United States has also promised a bounty of up to $15 million for information leading to the arrest of Maduro, as announced by the US State Department.
Attorney General Barr accuses Maduro and his inner circle of leading a breakout group of guerrillas within the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to Barr, the group is planning to “flood the United States with cocaine.” Several senior Venezuelan officials are also charged alongside the president, including Venezuela’s defense minister and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Critics of the US opine that the charge is a serious escalation by the United States against Maduro. It is extremely unusual to charge a sitting head of state for any crime. For a long time, the Trump administration has put pressure on the socialist president. He and his government are already subject to severe sanctions by the United States.
The United States— along with about fifty other countries— has recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful president. But Maduro, with backing from Russia, China and Cuba, has so far resisted the pressure to vacate office. Maduro has been Venezuela’s president since 2013. He took over from Hugo Chávez, who died of cancer the same year.
Terrorist Mullah Krekar is Extradited from Norway to Italy
Elsewhere, Mullah Krekar, who was convicted of terror-related charges in Italy last year, has now been handed over by Norway. Mullah Krekar was sentenced to 12 years in prison in Italy for planning terror. The verdict has been appealed, though. The 63-year-old mullah Krekar was extradited from Norway to Italy on Thursday.
Norwegian Minister of Justice Monica Maeland relayed the information at a press conference. In February, it was decided that Mullah Krekar could be extradited to Italy. However, the coronavirus outbreak delayed the plan. “We have been given assurances that he will receive the help he should have and needs,” Maeland told the press conference, when asked whether Krekar risked contracting the potentially deadly COVID-19.
Krekar’s lawyer, Brynjar Meling, told AFP the extradition marked “a day of shame” for “all those who have not stood up against the extradition of an obviously innocent man.” He added it constituted a “denial of justice.” The lawyer argues that Krekar is particularly at risk, since he currently suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. He added that mullah Krekar was picked up in jail Thursday morning and that he was not given the opportunity to say goodbye to his family.
Mullah Krekar was arrested in Norway in November 2015 in a coordinated action by Italian police. He is accused of being the head of a terrorist network, called Rawti Shax, allegedly affiliated with Islamic State. Italian police believe Krekar was the leader of 16 other Kurdish Iraqis and Kosovo Albanians, all of whom were arrested during the campaign. It is for his role in the networks that he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.