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Simon_trinidad.jpg
Simón Trinidad during his capture on January 2, 2004.

Simón Trinidad is the nom de guerre of Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera Pineda, a member of the central command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the highest ranking member of that rebel group ever to be captured during Colombia's 40-year-long insurgency.

Palmera/Trinidad was born into a traditional family in Valledupar, Cesar department, on 30 June 1950 . After receiving a post-graduate in economics from Harvard University he became both a wealthy bank manager and a professor. In the late 1980s he became a medium level commander of the FARC guerrilla group. He participated as a highly visible negotiator during the failed 1998–2002 peace talks held under President Andrés Pastrana Arango.

Trinidad was captured in January 2004 in Quito, Ecuador, by local authorities and speedily deported to Colombia, where he faced charges for rebellion and various other alleged illegal activities, including the extortion or kidnapping of several of his former banking associates. His exact rank within the FARC was not made clear by either the rebels or Colombian authorities.

In November 2004, the Colombian Supreme Court approved the extradition of Simón Trinidad to the USA, on charges related to the drug trade and money laundering.[1] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4040567.stm) The extradition would then proceed if President Uribe gave final approval to the move.

In a communique dated November 28 but released on December 3, the FARC declared that Trinidad's extradition would be a serious obstacle to reaching a prisioner exchange agreement with the Colombian government.[2] (http://www.farcep.org/novedades/comunicados/sec2004/diciembre_03.php)

On December 17, 2004, the Colombian government authorized Trinidad's extradition to the United States, but stated that the measure could be revoked if the FARC released all 63 (political and military) hostages in its possession before December 30.

The FARC did not accept this demand, and Trinidad himself had previously stated that he considered his future extradition and prosecution in the U.S. an opportunity to publicly protest against the Uribe administration. As the deadline passed, the Colombian military was placed on high alert, and the U.S. embassy in Bogotá issued a terrorism alert to U.S. citizens in Colombia. The extradition was signed by president Alvaro Uribe and Trinidad was placed on a DEA aircraft bound for Florida. Simón Trinidad was extradited to the United States in the afternoon of December 31, 2004.

In February 2005, Simon Trinidad appeared before a Washington court for a pre-trial hearing, where he pleaded not guilty to the prosecution's charges of drug trafficking and terrorism. The prosecution had asked for, and received, at least a three month period for the gathering and translation (if applicable) of the necessary evidence. The legal complexities of the case and the paperwork involved have set back the date of the trial for at least six months. [3] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4252071.stm)

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