US court sentences Colombian rebel

Senior Farc member found guilty of aiding kidnap of Pentagon contractors.

    The Pentagon contractors were captured after their aircraft crashed in Farc-held territory [EPA]

    Palmera said after his sentencing that he denounced terrorism.
     
    He said he hoped the hostages would be released but that Farc's actions were justified as part of a legitimate military revolution.
     
    "My conscience absolves me and I join the ranks of so many other who
    history can and will absolve," Palmera said.
     
    Role acknowledged
     
    During his trial Palmera acknowledged serving as a Farc negotiator, but said he never

    saw the Americans or kept them captive himself.

    He is currently awaiting a second trial on cocaine-trafficking charges, after his first trial ended in a deadlocked jury.
     
    Palmera was extradited to the US for trial in December 2004 - after his capture in Ecuador several months earlier - when Farc rejected an offer by the Colombian government to halt the extradition.
     
    In return Bogota wanted the release of about 60 hostages held by Farc.

    Palmera is the most senior Farc leader to have been captured during the nation's 40-year conflict.

    Other hostages

    The three US hostages - Thomas Howe, Keith Stannsen and Marc Goncalvez - are still being held by Farc along with about 40 others.

    They include Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian senator who also holds French citizenship.

    The men were last seen in video footage released by the Farc in April last year.

    Two Colombian legislators were released earlier this month after an agreement brokered by Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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