On Nov. 21, US District Judge Thomas Hogan in Washington declared a mistrial in the terrorism and hostage-taking trial of Juvenal Ricardo Ovidio Palmera Pineda, a high-level leader and former negotiator for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), better known by his nom de guerre, Simon Trinidad. Palmera was arrested in Ecuador on Jan. 2, 2004, and extradited from Colombia to the US on Dec. 31, 2004.
Palmera was charged with hostage-taking, conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists in relation to the abduction of three US defense contractors whose plane was downed in the southern Colombian department of Caqueta on Feb. 13, 2003. The FARC claims to have shot down the plane, and says it is holding the three US contractors: Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell. Palmera testified in the trial that he had never seen the three men. After five weeks of testimony, jurors deliberated for only a day before saying they were deadlocked. Prosecutors say they will try the case again. Palmera will remain jailed in the meantime. He also faces federal drug charges. (Miami Herald, Nov. 22 from AP)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 26
See also our November feature on the Simon Trinidad case.
See our last post on Colombia.