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Colombia Rebel Pleads Guilty in US to Hostage-Taking

A member of the Colombian FARC rebel group pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to hostage-taking charges stemming from the 2003 kidnappings of three U.S. citizens in Colombia, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Diego Alfonso Navarrete Beltran was extradited to the United States in November 2014 to face charges contained in the 2011 indictment.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on Nov. 10, 2015 and faces up to life in prison, the department said.

Navarrete Beltran was charged along with 18 other members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) group with crimes relating to the 2003 kidnappings. They were accused of holding Americans Marc D. Gonsalves, Thomas R. Howes and Keith Stansell hostage in the Colombian jungle for more than five years until their rescue by the Colombian military in 2008.

Two other FARC leaders have already been convicted for their roles in the hostage-taking.

Prosecutors said Navarrete Beltran also took part in keeping the Americans captive, and used choke harnesses, chains, padlocks and wires to restrain them.

FARC, a group of Marxist rebels, has fought successive Colombian governments since the 1960s in a conflict that has killed more than 220,000.

The two sides have recently agreed a fledgling ceasefire.

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