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Page last updated at 21:32 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 22:32 UK

Colombia extradites Farc captor

Police escort Cesar to his plane at Bogota's Catam airport, 16 July
Cesar faces jail in a country where he does not speak the language

Colombia has extradited to the US a rebel leader who held political hostages, among them Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

Gerardo Aguilar Ramirez, alias Cesar, a former top Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) commander, faces charges of trafficking drugs to the US.

Cesar was duped in July 2008 into handing over his hostages to undercover soldiers and getting captured himself.

He is accused of guarding 15 of the Farc's highest-profile hostages.

Cesar is now the unwilling guest of the US justice system, the BBC's Jeremy McDermott reports from Colombia.

He has lost everything and is likely to spend the next 20 years in an American cell.

Farc's greatest humiliation

Handcuffed and wearing a military-style combat helmet and bullet-proof vest, Cesar boarded a US government plane late on Thursday morning, leaving Bogota for Washington.

Ingrid Betancourt (centre) with daughter Melanie and son Lorenzo after her rescue - 3/7/2008
Ms Betancourt described her six years in captivity as agonising

About 50 police officers escorted him to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) plane, Colombian radio station RCN reports.

The former Farc jailer faces charges of drugs-trafficking as his guerrilla unit, the 1st Front, is a major drugs-trafficking organisation in its own right.

But Colombia's supreme court denied a US request to charge him with kidnapping because his alleged crimes did not take place on US soil.

Cesar has been forsaken by his former Farc comrades who condemned him as a traitor after he was hoodwinked by an army intelligence operation masquerading as a humanitarian mission.

Undercover soldiers persuaded him to hand over 15 hostages in his care, among them Ingrid Betancourt and three US defence contractors.

Not only did he surrender his hostages but he was persuaded to accompany the mission, climbing aboard a helicopter where he was quickly overpowered and placed under arrest.

Without the support of his fellow rebels he will be utterly alone in the US, to reflect on how he was part of the greatest humiliation ever inflicted on the Farc in 45 years of fighting, our correspondent says.



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