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March 11, 2012

Colombian FARC Rebel Pleads Not Guilty in US to Hostage-Taking

An alleged member of Colombia's FARC rebel group has pleaded not guilty to taking three Americans hostage after their single-engine plane crash-landed in Colombia in 2003.

Alexander Beltran Herrera entered the plea during an arraignment in a U.S. federal court in Washington Monday.

Beltran Herrera was extradited to the United States.  Another court hearing is scheduled for May 4.  He faces a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say Beltran Herrera was involved in the seizing of the three U.S. government contractors after their aircraft made the crash landing.  Another American and a Colombian national were murdered by the FARC at the crash site.

The three Americans were released in 2008 during a Colombian military operation that also freed former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.