Colombian rebels took Betancourt to clinic: priest

March 29th, 2008 - 6:07 pm ICT by admin  

Bogota, March 29 (IANS) A priest in the southern Colombian province of Guaviare has claimed that rebels from Colombia’s largest insurgency group escorted former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt to a clinic for a health check-up last month, Spain’s EFE news agency reported. Rev. Manuel Mancera told the RCN Television Friday that around 200 guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) accompanied Betancourt, who was seriously ill, to the clinic.

He said the rebels surrounded the clinic in the small village of El Capricho when the ailing Betancourt received treatment.

The village falls under the San Jose municipality, capital of Guaviare. The area is considered a stronghold of the FARC.

The priest said Betancourt, 46, visited the clinic sometime between Feb 20 and 25.

On Thursday, a senior Colombian official said her health is “very, very fragile”. She was kidnapped by the FARC in 2002.

Volmar Perez said his office had learnt about her treatment at clinics in Guaviare last month. Betancourt’s family said she suffered from chronic hepatitis B.

FARC wants to exchange their 39 high-profile hostages, including Betancourt and three US military contractors, for hundreds of jailed guerrillas.

Since January 2008, the rebels released six hostages on humanitarian grounds. Several of the freed captives have highlighted the plight of Betancourt, who holds a dual Colombian-French citizenship.

The Colombian government late Thursday announced that President Alvaro Uribe signed a decree to release the imprisoned guerrillas for exchange of hostages.

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