U.S. Courts Try Colombian Guerrilla

A Colombian guerrilla leader goes on trial in Washington, D.C., today on charges he tried to trade three American hostages for the release of members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Justice Department officials told the Los Angeles Times that the trial of Ricardo Palmera is an important example of its ability to prosecute alleged terrorists in the U.S. court system. A previous trial resulted in a hung jury.

Palmera is charged with providing material support to terrorists and hostage taking.

Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of FARC assets under provisions of the Patriot Act. They say the group has targeted U.S. individuals and corporations for extortion, kidnapping and murder.

Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves were captured in 2003 after their drug surveillance plane crashed. The government contractors are still being held by FARC leaders; a fourth was killed.

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