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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 02:04 GMT
Court clears Colombia extradition
Ricardo Palmera, alias Simon Trinidad, was jailed in May 2004 for 35 years
Palmera is the most senior Farc rebel in captivity
The Colombian Supreme Court has authorised the extradition of two top paramilitary leaders and a guerrilla commander to the United States.

Only one of the men, who are accused of drugs trafficking and money laundering, is in custody.

The court ruled that the extradition request complied with Colombian law.

Right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas are bitter enemies, but now have a common cause, with drug traffickers, against extradition.

The wanted men are Carlos Castano, Salvatore Mancuso and Ricardo Palmera, better known by his guerrilla alias, Simon Trinidad.

Negotiator

Castano was the founder of the right wing paramilitary army, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, the AUC. His whereabouts are unknown and some people believe he is dead, murdered by rival factions.

Paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso addresses Colombia's Congress
Mancuso was allowed to address Colombia's Congress in July
His successor, Salvatore Mancuso, is currently the chief negotiator in peace talks with the government.

The authorisation of his extradition will put further pressure on the Colombian government to refuse him amnesty for his crimes and could endanger sensitive peace negotiations, says the BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Bogota.

Simon Trinidad is the most senior guerrilla of the Farc, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and he is currently in captivity.

There have long been alliances between drugs traffickers and the warring factions and now for the first time there is evidence of non-aggression pacts in certain parts of the country between paramilitaries and guerrillas.

Should the peace process with the paramilitaries fail, and the state continue to pursue them, they may opt to put aside their differences with the guerrillas and unite against extradition, our correspondent says.


SEE ALSO:
Ask Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe
18 Nov 04 |  Have Your Say
Colombian warlord visits Congress
28 Jul 04 |  Americas
Colombia jails top rebel leader
05 May 04 |  Americas
US slams Colombia prisoner plan
26 Aug 04 |  Americas
Q&A: Colombia's civil conflict
06 May 03 |  Americas


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