Colombia pursues US troop cocaine smuggling case
Colombia's defence minister has said a deal giving US soldiers immunity from prosecution was amendable, as law-makers want to charge five US soldiers suspected of cocaine smuggling.
Five US soldiers were arrested aboard a US military plane leaving Colombia on March 29, allegedly with 16 kilograms of cocaine.
They had been in Colombia on an anti-drug mission. One of the five has been released for lack of evidence.
"I am not saying that [the agreement] should be modified, but if problems are found that merit a change, I am sure that officials at the Colombian Foreign Ministry and US State Department officials would sit down for that," Jorge Alberto Uribe told reporters.
US Ambassador to Bogota, William Wood, said the soldiers are covered by a 1974 US-Colombian immunity deal, which allows them to be tried under US law.
Colombian Foreign Minister Carolina Barco agrees.
However, some Colombian law-makers argue that a bilateral extradition treaty for drug offences takes precedence, and therefore US soldiers who break the law in Colombia should face justice in Colombia.
The soldiers were serving as part of the US war on drugs under the $US3 billion ($3.9 billion) "Plan Colombia," which pays for equipment and some 800 soldiers and 600 contractors to work in-country.
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