SANTIAGO – Through a press release, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that its government will extradite Raúl Escobar Poblete, also known as “Comandante Emilio”. Escobar Poblete is being accused of involvement in the assassination of UDI-founder Jaime Guzmán. He was a companion of Ricardo Palma Salamanca, who received political asylum in France last month despite extradition requests from the Chilean government.
Raúl Escobar Poblete was one of the leaders of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FMPR), an extremist group responsible for various violent acts committed against people linked to the military dictatorship.
Two of their most notorious crimes were the kidnapping of Cristián Edwards, the son of the then El Mercurio owner, and the killing of senator Jaime Guzmán, who served as the ideologist behind Pinochet´s dictatorship.
Escobar Poblete, who was known in his circle as “Comandante Emilio”, was directly involved in the spectacular escape of four FMPR members from a high-security prison in Santiago. Escobar Poblete was in charge of the group that helped escape, among others, Palma Salamanca.
After the escape, the group disappeared and in June 2017 Escobar Poblete was arrested in Mexico for the involvement in another kidnapping that took place on Mexican soil. Since then, he was being held in the federal maximum security prison in Ocampo, Guanajuato.
Chile guarantees “the death penalty will not be applied”
In the statement, released by Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government emphasizes that “the Chilean government has guaranteed [neither] the death penalty nor lifetime imprisonment will be applied.”
The decision by Mexico’s government was met with satisfaction by Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Roberto Ampuero. In a reaction, Ampuero praised Mexico´s commitment to battle terrorism and organized crime.
“Mexico respects justice and collaboration among states. Through the extradition, they have shown their confidence in the system of laws in our country”, Ampuero said.
The comments can also be seen as an indirect attack on the French government, who granted Ricardo Palma Salamanca, the other suspect in the murder of Jaime Guzmán, just recently political asylum, despite Chilean extradition requests.
— SRE México (@SRE_mx) November 26, 2018
A diplomatic battle
For weeks, Roberto Ampuero had been requesting extradition from his Mexican counterpart. During the recent APEC summit, the issue was brought up and Ampuero even visited Mexico last week to address Mexico’s foreign minister. Ampuero has close ties with Mexico, as he served as ambassador in the country during the first Piñera administration.
Despite Mexico’s intentions, extradition might still be a lengthy process, as it remains unclear whether Escobar Poblete will appeal the decision.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today.