Colombian rebel suspect pleads innocent in U.S.

An alleged member of Colombia’s rebel group has pleaded innocent 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. He is believed to be a member of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia.

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 Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia 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.

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