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Last Updated: Friday, 31 December, 2004, 19:19 GMT
Colombia hands Farc leader to US
Ricardo Palmera (Simon Trinidad) at a press conference in Los Pozos in 2002
Palmera: The most senior Farc leader caught in 40 years of conflict
The most prominent jailed leader of Colombia's leftist Farc rebels has been handed over to the US to face charges of drug-trafficking and abduction.

A US plane collected Simon Trinidad after heavily armed troops took him to an airfield outside the capital Bogota.

The Farc leader, whose real name is Ricardo Palmera, was extradited to Colombia from Ecuador last year.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe agreed to the new extradition after rebels failed to free more than 60 hostages.

Among those held by the group are former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three US citizens and dozens of Colombian army officers and political figures.

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott reports from Colombia that the extradition is certain to upset the Farc and it remains to be seen what their response will be.

US captives

Palmera was convicted by a Colombian court of kidnapping and rebellion in May and sentenced to 35 years in jail.

His original arrest was heralded as a triumph by the Colombian security forces, who have vowed to kill or capture the guerrilla high command.

In an unorthodox offer, President Uribe had said he would halt Palmera's extradition if the guerrillas released 63 political hostages they held by 30 December.

The rebels refused, saying the hostages would only be liberated in exchange for hundreds of guerrillas held in prison.

A US federal court in Washington has charged Palmera with trafficking five kilos (11 pounds) or more of cocaine and involvement in kidnapping Americans.

Three US government contractors were captured by the Farc in February 2003 when their aircraft crashed during a mission to find illegal drug crops.

A US plane collects Ricardo Palmera

Court clears Colombia extradition
25 Nov 04 |  Americas
Colombian rebels face ultimatum
18 Dec 04 |  Americas

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