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Colombia's President says rebels to hand over bodies of killed lawmaker hostages

Colombia's President says rebels to hand over bodies of killed lawmaker hostages

Leftist rebels will hand over on Saturday the remains of 11 hostage lawmakers killed in a disputed shooting two months ago, Colombia's president said Thursday.
The cause of the lawmakers' death has been a point of contention ever since the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, announced in late June that they had been killed.
The rebels contend they died in a crossfire when an "unidentified military group" attacked the camp where they were being held on June 18. The government accuses the FARC of killing the lawmakers, who had been rebel hostages since 2002, during a friendly fire incident with another guerrilla unit.
President Alvaro Uribe has demanded the FARC hand over the bodies so that an international forensic committee can determine the cause of death.
"They are going to belatedly hand over the cadavers of the lawmakers" Saturday, said Uribe in a speech in the Caribbean resort of Cartagena.
He did not provide details about how he learned of the rebels' intentions or how the handover of the bodies would take place.
Yves Heller, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the FARC had so far provided no deadline for surrendering the lawmakers' bodies.
Still, the lawmakers' relatives were cautiously optimistic.
"If the president makes an announcement like this, then he must have confirmation that something is afoot," said Fabiola Perdomo, widow of lawmaker Juan Carlos Narvaez.
Rebels dressed as soldiers staged a daring daylight raid on a state legislature in the southwest city of Cali in April 2002, kidnapping 12 lawmakers. The FARC said one lawmaker survived the June shooting because he wasn't with the other 11 at the time.
Uribe, whose father was killed two decades ago in a FARC kidnapping attempt, said the rebels' delay in handing over the bodies could hamper the work of forensic experts.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is expected to meet with Uribe on Friday in Bogota to discuss ways to jump-start talks with the FARC over the release 45 other hostages, including three U.S. defense contractors and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian citizen.


Updated : 2021-03-03 20:37 GMT+08:00