Colombian rebels who held politician captive get 17-year sentence
The (Hamburg, Germany) Deutsche Presse-Agentur
BOGOTA, Colombia — A judge in Florencia, Colombia, handed down 17-year prison sentences Friday for two members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who were convicted of holding politician Ingrid Betancourt captive.
The court announced the sentences against rebels Gerardo Aguilar, known with the alias "Cesar," and Alexander Farfan, alias "Gafas," who were arrested in the 2008 rescue operation that freed Betancourt, who was kidnapped in 2002 while running for president and was FARC's highest-profile hostage.
The two men were convicted of hostage taking and rebellion, though they may appeal.
Betancourt, who holds French-Colombian dual citizenship, was kidnapped by FARC in February 2002 in Caqueta province, during her campaign as the Green Oxygen Party's presidential nominee.
She was freed by the Colombian Army in July 2008, in an undercover operation in which the authorities made contact with her captors. Soldiers pretending to be members of a non-governmental organization told the rebels that they had been assigned to move Betancourt to another FARC camp.
"Cesar" and "Gafas" were overpowered, disarmed and taken into custody inside a military helicopter that had been painted to dupe the rebels.
Three US citizens and 11 Colombian military and police officers who were also FARC hostages at the time were rescued along with Betancourt, who has lived in Britain for several years.