By Dialogo July 20, 2009 Washington, July 17 (EFE).- Today FARC guerrilla Gerardo Antonio Aguilar Ramírez, alias “Cesar,” one of the “jailers” of Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans rescued in July 2008, pleaded “not guilty” to the drug-trafficking charges of which he is accused in the United States. “Cesar,” who was extradited from Bogotá yesterday, appeared before a federal judge in Washington in a hearing attended by Marc Gonsalves, one of the three Americans who were kidnapped in the Colombian jungle for five years. Through his lawyer, Carmen Hernández, the guerrilla pled “not guilty” to the drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges of which he is accused in the United States, while the lawyer recalled that in this case her client is being judged “in a drug-trafficking case, not a kidnapping case.” Nevertheless, prosecutor Eric Snyder pointed out that Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell, the three Americans kidnapped by the FARC and freed in Operation Jaque together with Betancourt and eleven other hostages, were carrying out a mission in the fight against drug trafficking when they were kidnapped, thereby attempting to demonstrate that the FARC were impeding law-enforcement action against drug trafficking. Throughout the entire hearing, Gonsalves, who was present as a spectator, never took his eyes off the man on whom he fixed his gaze when he entered the courtroom dressed in the orange jumpsuit worn by prisoners in U.S. jails and with his hands cuffed. “He’s in handcuffs, but he has better conditions in jail than they gave us there,” he told a group of reporters after the hearing. Gonsalves said that he is not seeking “revenge,” but that he wants “Cesar” to go to jail because he thinks that he “does not believe in freedom, and he would go back to the jungle to do the same thing he did to me, or worse.” The Washington Federal District Court judge, Thomas F. Hogan, scheduled a follow-up hearing for July 30; in the meantime the defendant will remain in the D.C. jail, known for its harsh conditions.
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. >> Only one major league player has hit more home runs in spring training than Joc Pederson’s six. His name is Kris Bryant, a rookie third baseman for the Chicago Cubs, who has nine.Under an arcane rule, the Cubs can delay Bryant’s free-agent eligibility by keeping him in the minor leagues 13 days into this season. Many observers believe the Cubs will do exactly that.The Dodgers have given no indication that they will do the same with Pederson. Besides, Pederson spent 28 days with the Dodgers at the end of last season. To delay Pederson’s free agency by a year, the Dodgers would have to keep him in the minor leagues until mid-May.And to do that now seems downright silly. Pederson hasn’t been told that he will be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, but he is leaving them little choice. In addition to his home runs, the 22-year-old outfielder is hitting .389 and has cut back on the strikeouts (12 in 22 games) that made his at-bats last September seem like a boom-or-bust proposition. • MORE DODGERS: Vin Scully is getting ready to begin 66th season with DodgersDodgers manager Don Mattingly has said that any decision on Pederson would be made late in camp. With only three days remaining in Arizona, all Pederson has done is been one of the most consistent hitters in the league. Mattingly at least acknowledges this; Pederson won’t even go that far. “There’s going to be great days, there’s going to be terrible days, and I just try to stay even keel, come back the next day and stick to the same routine,” he said. “I’m fortunate that Mark (McGwire, the Dodgers hitting coach) and Val (assistant hitting coach John Valentin) are there to help and keep me on track.Asked if he deserves a spot on the Opening Day roster after a 2-for-3, one-homer game Sunday, Pederson sounded like a man afraid of jinxing his chances. “I just show up every day,” he said, “and go about the process that the coaches have laid out for me and do whatever I can to help the team win.”That process was not always there for him last September. Pederson was an everyday player at Triple-A Albuquerque last season, a spot in the batting cage waiting for him when he arrived. He often arrived early.After being called up in September, Pederson’s time in the batting cage was limited. The Dodgers’ regulars had priority. Many of them showed up early, too.Between the mechanical changes Pederson made to his swing in the off-season, and the practice he’s had keeping everything synchronized, the results are not surprising to McGwire.“That’s the body of work that he’s put in to maintain and to work off of to be successful,” McGwire said. “You can’t just show up and play anymore. I don’t think it exists. You have to put in the work, to put in the study, and he’s willing to do that.“The work he’s put in in the offseason, and what he’s doing and sticking with it, you’re seeing the potential” — McGwire paused, as if choosing the words carefully – “of a superstar in the making.” Pederson is choosing his words carefully, too. A visiting writer asked him Sunday about becoming “the Dodgers’ next great center fielder.” Pederson’s expression didn’t change, his poker skills apparently in midseason form. “It’s not about me,” Pederson said. “It’s about the team. I have to do whatever I can to help win the ball game.”AlsoAngels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that his Opening Day roster will feature four starters and eight relievers. Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago are expected to be the four starters, with Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano and possibly Drew Rucinski heading to the minors to start the season. … Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe was a late lineup scratch because of a minor illness. … Mattingly said that right-hander Joe Wieland will start Tuesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Wieland was optioned to the Dodgers’ minor-league camp March 16.