Colombia approves exchange of leftist rebels for Betancourt

March 28th, 2008 - 4:54 pm ICT by admin  

Bogota, March 28 (DPA) Colombian President Alvaro Uribe early Friday approved an exchange of left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels for kidnapped former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. Betancourt was taken hostage six years ago by the FARC.

Official reports say she is suffering from hepatitis B and “black fever”, a painful disease transmitted by sand flies that results in skin ulcers.

Uribe said the aim of the deal with the FARC was to secure the release of Betancourt and others kidnapped by the rebels, but FARC must make the first step.

Once the group makes a move, judicial authorities would be instructed to release the imprisoned rebels and to revoke their sentences.

FARC is believed to have 740 hostages. The group wants to exchange 40 of them - soldiers, police officers and politicians - for 500 of their members currently in prison.

Uribe’s conservative government and the rebels have so far been unable to agree on the conditions, time and place for the exchange.

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