November 21, 2014 / 9:58 PM / 3 years ago

Accused Colombia rebel extradited to U.S. to face hostage-taking charges

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An accused member of the Colombian FARC rebel group was extradited from Colombia to face hostage-taking and terrorism charges in U.S. court in Washington, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday.

Diego Alfonso Navarrete Beltran was charged in a 2011 indictment along with 18 other members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) group, the agency said.

Another defendant, Alexander Beltran Herrera, was sentenced in October to 27 years in prison for his role in keeping three Americans hostage in the Colombian jungle in the mid-2000s.

Prosecutors said Navarrete Beltran also took part in keeping the Americans captive, and used choke harnesses, chains, padlocks and wires to restrain them.

The hostages were rescued in 2008. At Beltran Herrera’s sentencing, they recounted their time in captivity and showed the judge their scars from the restraints.

Earlier this week, the Marxist FARC rebels agreed to release an army general and four other people captured in the past two weeks, a move that may lead to a resumption of peace talks.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who began a second term in August, has bet his political legacy on ending the five-decade-old conflict with the FARC that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.

Reporting by Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Frances Kerry

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