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| 11/19/2009 12:00:00 AM

Former hostages of Colombian paramilitary group suing former captors

Nov 19--Keith Stansell and two other men who were held hostage in Colombia for more than five years are suing FARC, the Colombian paramilitary group that held them.

Stansell, of Manatee County, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes were captured Feb. 13, 2003, when their drug-surveillance plane crashed in the Colombian jungle after being hit by machine gun fire. They were captured by FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a leftist guerrilla group that wants to overthrow the Colombian government. FARC is designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization.

Also joining in the lawsuit are the widow and children of pilot Thomas Janis, who was executed, as was a Colombian soldier who was on the flight.
Stansell, who served in the Marines, was the commander of the counter-narcotics mission. He declined to comment Wednesday.

Stansell and his two colleagues from Northrop Grumman Corp. had been the longest-held U.S. hostages in the world. Officials said military spies tricked rebels into giving up 15 hostages -- the Americans, French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and 11 Colombians -- without firing a shot.
 
Read more here.
 
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