FARC Guerrilla “Pirinolo” Pleads Not Guilty

By Dialogo
March 14, 2012

In Washington, D.C., on March 12, FARC guerrilla Alexander Beltrán, alias ‘Rodrigo Pirinolo,’ pleaded not guilty to all charges related to the kidnapping of three American contractors, freed together with Ingrid Betancourt in 2008.

Thirty-five-year-old ‘Pirinolo,’ who is a member of what is known as Front 27 of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was extradited by the Colombian Government on March 9.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit and in handcuffs, the guerrilla pleaded not guilty to the eight charges against him, including kidnapping and support for members of international terrorist organizations, through his lawyer, John Machado.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered the Colombian national, who will appear in court again on May 4, held without bail.

The FARC kidnapped American contractors Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell, and Marc Gonsalves on February 12, 2003, when the aircraft in which they were travelling through a jungle area of the department of Caquetá (in southern Colombia) was brought down by the insurgents.

In the attack, the rebels killed two people, one American and one Colombian national.

The three State Department contractors were rescued by the Colombian Army in July 2008, in what was called ‘Operation Checkmate,’ in which former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 11 police and Military personnel were also freed.

Beltrán was arrested slightly over a year ago in Cartagena (in northern Colombia). The Colombian government continues to search for the other individuals responsible for the kidnapping, the prosecutor in the case, Fernando Campo Amar, stated.