Colombia extradites FARC rebel to U.S.

By Dialogo
March 13, 2012

Colombia on February 9 extradited a FARC rebel to the United States wanted in connection to the kidnapping of three Americans who were freed in 2008 after five years in captivity.

Alexander Beltran, 35, was handed over to agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Colombian police said.

The United States sought his extradition in December 2010 after charging him with multiple homicides and terrorism, and the Colombian Supreme Court approved the transfer last month.

Beltran, also known under the alias Rodrigo Pirinolo, is also accused of involvement in the abduction and captivity of the three American employees of a security firm, who were kidnapped in 2003.

They were freed in the 2008 operation that also saw the high profile release of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian national who had been kept in captivity in the jungle for six years.

The rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) officially renounced abduction of civilians late last month, but still holds ten members of Colombian security forces, though it has pledged to release them soon.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says he will open a direct dialogue with the FARC only when all hostages are released and the group vows to cease “terrorist” actions. He also wants the FARC to stop recruiting children.