A former commander of Colombia’s FARC rebels faces up to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from the kidnapping of three US citizens in 2003
Ex-Colombia rebel admits kidnapping Americans
A former commander of Colombia’s FARC rebels faces up to 60 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from the kidnapping of three US citizens in 2003, US justice officials said.
Alexander Beltran Herrera, 37, admitted three counts of hostage-taking during an appearance in federal court in Washington following his extradition to the United States in 2012.
Beltran Herrera had been a member and commander in FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, during a 15-year spell with the group between 1994 and 2009.
He will be sentenced on July 25 in Washington, a statement said.
John Carlin, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said Beltran Herrera had admitted involvement in the kidnapping of Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell.
The three men, who had been working for a US defense contractor on a drug surveillance mission, were taken hostage after their small plane crashed in the Colombian jungle in February 2003.
They were held for more than five years by FARC, which Washington has designated as a foreign “terrorist” organization.
Two other men on board the plane when it crashed were executed by FARC rebels after the accident.
Tuesday’s statement said FARC jailers used “choke harnesses, chains, padlocks and wires” to restrain the hostages during their captivity.
They were eventually rescued after a raid by Colombian forces in 2008, which also led to the release of French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt.
“This case underscores our resolve to hold accountable those who target our citizens with violence anywhere in the world,” Carlin said.
The FARC have been fighting successive governments since the 1960s and are Latin America’s oldest insurgency.
Source: News Republic