Ingrid Betancourt’s Request For Millions In Damages Sparks Controversy In Colombia
July 12, 2010 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Former hostage to Colombian rebels Ingrid Betancourt has asked for compensation from the Colombian government, alleging that her kidnapping resulted from state negligence, Agence France-Presse reports.
Betancourt, a former Colombian politician and dual citizen of France, was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in February 2002 and held hostage until she was freed in 2008 during a military rescue operation.
On Friday, the Colombian government announced that she had initiated legal action to obtain roughly $7 million in damages for her and her family, alleging that her kidnapping had resulted from negligence on the part of the state. (News reports differ on the precise amount of damages sought.)
“The state gravely failed in its duty in allowing a presidential candidate to travel in this part of the country without proper protection,” the court documents say, according to Time Magazine.
In Colombia, which has remained in a state of war with several leftist insurgencies over the last half-century, the government is often charged with protecting politicians who face threats. Betancourt was kidnapped when she traveled into FARC-controlled territory to campaign for president, despite government warnings.
Betancourt’s demand touched off a bitter controversy, with Vice President Francisco Santos saying she wins the “world prize for ungratefulness,” according to Agence France-Presse. Others, including Marc Gonsalves, an American who was held hostage along with Betancourt, defended her claim.
Betancourt’s lawyer Gabriel Devis later issued a statement emphasizing that no one had been sued yet and that Betancourt was “deeply grateful” for her release, according to AFP.
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- Uruguayan soccer star Diego Forlán was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player at the 2010 World Cup.
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