The Justice Department said Carlos Marin Guarin was a top official
for the National Liberation Army (ELN) both times the leftist rebel group
took Americans hostage.
An indictment released Monday in U.S.
District Court in Washington says Guarin acted as a planner and chief
ransom negotiator in the kidnapping of American citizen Matthew A.
Burchell in 1999.
Burchell endured two mock executions, death
threats, and being blindfolded during the fifteen months he was held.
He could not be reached for comment Monday.
Guarin also was a
commander of the rebels’ front that took Los Angeles Times journalists
Scott A. Dalton and Alison Ruth Morris hostage in 2003. Dalton and
Morris were released unharmed after 12 days. They were forced to
interview Guarin during their capture.
Dalton, a former photographer with The Associated Press, could not be reached for comment Monday.
declined to discuss the indictment, but said she looks “forward to the
day there are no more kidnappings to report in Colombia.”
just seems like a good time to emphasize that there are still many
people kidnapped in Colombia who have been held for months or years,”
she said. “And there are others who suspect their loved ones died in
captivity, but have no way of knowing what really happened.”
Colombian officials say scores, if not hundreds, of people are being held by leftist rebels for political or economic reasons.
Guarin, 40, is being held in Colombia on other charges.
U.S. government designated the National Liberation Army, or ELN, as a
terrorist organization in 1997. It is Colombia’s second-largest rebel
army, operates in the oil-producing region bordering Venezuela, and has
fewer than 3,000 fighters, by government count.
The ELN’s Domingo
Lain Front that held Morris and Dalton in the turbulent northeastern
state of Arauca was blamed by Colombia’s government for an attack
Friday on a small police convoy that killed nine officers. It was the
highest death toll in an ELN attack in years. (AP)