Published on ZNet by Paul Wolf, November 03, 2006 – Ricardo Palmera, a Colombian guerrilla leader better known as Simón Trinidad, is charged with hostage-taking and providing material support to a terrorist organization, among other charges. Trinidad is well-known in Colombia for his role as a negotiator for the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), a marxist guerrilla army that has battled the Colombian government for more than 40 years. Why is he on trial in Washington, DC?
The charges stem from an incident on Feb 13, 2004, in which a Cessna 208 surveillance aircraft crashed in a FARC-controlled region of the Colombian jungle. After the crash, and the execution of two occupants of the plane, the FARC took three other occupants captive, and have held them ever since, along with about 60 Colombian police, military, and political figures they are holding somewhere in the dense Colombian jungle. The three Americans were employed by California Microwave Systems, a US military contractor. The FARC consider them to be prisoners of war.
Just a few months after the crash, Simón Trinidad was apparently sent by the FARC leadership to Quito, Ecuador, to meet with James Lemoyne, Kofi Annan’s special representative for Colombia-FARC negotiations. The meeting was not to be. Trinidad was tracked by Colombian and US authorities and arrested by the Ecuadorans shortly after arrival. There he stated that he was a member of the FARC on a humanitarian mission to discuss the exchange of prisoners, and asked for the protection of the Ecuadoran government. He was shortly sent to Colombia, interrogated by the FBI, and then extradited to the US to face crimnal hostage-taking charges stemming from the Cessna incident. (Read the rest of this article on ZNet).