SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Brazil said on Tuesday it had extradited to Chile a leftist guerrilla convicted of the murder of a Chilean politician allied with former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Mauricio Hernandez Norambuena, a member of leftist group Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR), was convicted in Chile of the 1991 murder of Chilean Senator Jaime Guzman. Hernandez eventually fled to Cuba and to Brazil, where he was jailed 10 years later for kidnapping advertising executive Washington Olivetto in Sao Paulo.
Brazil’s conservative president, Jair Bolsonaro, said on social media that his government’s decision to extradite Hernandez for the decades-old crime was proof the two countries were overcoming former differences.
“It’s our policy to cooperate with other countries and not give refuge to criminals or terrorists,” Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter.
Previous Brazilian governments had denied Chile’s requests for extradition.
Brazil’s minister of justice and public security, Sergio Moro, said Norambuena was due to serve a prison sentence of up to 30 years in Chile.
In 1996, Hernandez escaped from a maximum-security prison in Santiago with fellow guerrillas in a metal basket dangling from a helicopter, humiliating Chile’s nascent democratic government and stunning the world.
Ricardo Palma Salamanca, another guerrilla and co-conspirator in the murder of Senator Guzman, eventually fled to Mexico, and later to France.
France in January refused to extradite Palma Salamanca, raising questions about whether the former guerrilla had received a fair trial in Chile.
Guzman was a key confidant of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet. Chile has long maintained it had fairly convicted the guerrillas under a democratically elected government that followed Pinochet’s nearly two decades in power.
(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes, writing by Dave Sherwood; editing by Jonathan Oatis)