Colombia court denies US request to extradite FARC chief

US wanted to try Alexander Farfan alias "Spectacles" for terrorism after he was caught by Colombian commandos.

Colombia court denies US request to extradite FARC chief

Colombia's Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a U.S. request to extradite a guerrilla chief who helped hold three Americans in jungle camps for five years before they were rescued in July.

U.S. authorities wanted to try Alexander Farfan alias "Spectacles" for terrorism after he was caught by Colombian commandos in a bloodless rescue of the three U.S. defense contractors and French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

Troops posing as aid workers fooled Farfan and fellow guerrilla Gerardo Antonio Aguilar into giving up their high-profile hostages. The rescue dealt a severe blow to the Latin America's longest-running insurgency.

The court denied the request arguing Farfan committed his crimes in Colombia.

The three U.S. employees of Northrop Grumman Corp. were captured by FARC rebels in 2003 after their plane crashed during an anti-drug operation in the jungles of Colombia.

The Marxist rebels are reeling from the US-backed military offensive by President Alvaro Uribe that has pushed them deep into the jungles. The killing of rebel leaders and desertions have weakened the 44-year-old guerrilla force.

The FARC freed five captives this week and another handover is planned for Thursday, fueling speculation that the weakened rebels want to recover political capital after a year of military setbacks.

The rebels said the releases are a unilateral humanitarian gesture, but Uribe says they are trying to manipulate public opinion.

Freed hostages say they were sometimes chained to each other by the neck, suffered crippling jungle illnesses and often narrowly escaped army bomb attacks.

Colombian officials say FARC, which the United States lists as a terrorist organization, still holds more than 700 hostages. Kidnapping is one of the group's favored tactics for political leverage and to finance its war against the state.

Reuters
Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2009, 09:55
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