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US judge sentences Colombian rebel to 60 years in prison

[JURIST] Judge Royce Lamberth of the US District Court for the District of Columbia sentenced [DOJ press release] Colombian rebel Ricardo Palmera [advocacy website] to 60 years in prison Monday for his role in a hostage-taking conspiracy involving three American citizens in Colombia [JURIST news archive]. Palmera, aka Simon Trinidad, is a senior member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) [CDI backgrounder], Colombia’s largest guerrilla group which uses drug profits to finance its mission to overthrow the Colombian government. A federal jury convicted [DOJ press release] Palmera in July of conspiracy to take hostage three civilian Pentagon contractors who were captured when their counter-drug surveillance plane crashed in Colombia in 2003. They have reportedly been held by FARC forces ever since.

Palmera was originally extradited [JURIST report] to the United States in December 2004 to face drug smuggling and kidnapping charges. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe [BBC profile], a staunch supporter of the US, agreed to Palmera's release to US authorities after FARC failed to release any of the more than 60 hostages it was known to be holding. AP has more.

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