Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos authorized Wednesday the extradition of Leiver Padilla Mendoza, a suspected paramilitary who has been identified by Venezuelan authorities as the mastermind behind the murder of socialist lawmaker, Robert Serra.
Padilla was arrested by Colombian authorities in November, with Venezuelan authorities submitting an extradition request afterward. He is facing a number of charges, including aggravated homicide.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stated that preliminary investigations into Serra's murder had revealed the involvement of Colombian paramilitaries, acting as part of broader efforts to destabilize the Venezuelan government, including plots to assassinate leftist politicians.
Maduro also alleged that these paramilitary groups are connected to former far-right Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Padilla's potential links to destabilization plots could be revealed throughout the course of investigation by Venezuelan authorities.
Eight people were believed to have participated in murder of Serra and his partner, including Serra’s security chief. Surveillance images showed a group entering Serra’s house, assisted by his head of security, and subsequently leaving in under five minutes.
The 27-year-old Serra, who was the youngest serving member of the National Assembly, was seen as a rising star of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela.