WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- A Colombian man involved in holding three Americans hostage for five years was sentenced to 27 years in prison Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Diego Alfonso Navarrete Beltran, 43, admitted to membership in the Colombian FARC terrorist group but claimed he was only following orders when he was involved in the 2003 capture of Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves, contractors in Colombia on a U.S. Defense Department counter-drug mission.
The men were abducted by FARC members after their plane crashed; the hostages were marched through the jungle, from one imprisonment site to another, and were denied medical treatment. They were rescued in 2008.
Navarrete Beltran was extradited to the United States in 2014 to face charges, and in August pleaded guilty to three counts of hostage-taking. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth imposed the sentence recommended by prosecutors.
The conviction was the third in the case. A FARC commander, Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda, also known as Simon Trinidad, was sentenced in 2008 to 60 years in prison, prior to the hostages' release. A lesser FARC leader, Alexander Beltran Herrera, was sentenced to 27 years in 2014.