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FARC Hostage Near Death in Jungle

Former presidential candidate gravely ill, says released captive
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Feb 28, 2008 8:21 PM CST

(Newser) – A high-profile hostage still held by Colombian rebels is near death because of mistreatment and a lack of medicine, a former fellow captive said today. Ingrid Betancourt, seized by FARC rebels six years ago while campaigning for the presidency, is sick with hepatitis and liver problems, says Luis Eladio Perez, one of four hostages released yesterday. "It breaks my heart to have left her behind," he said.

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Perez said he and Betancourt tried to escape two years ago but gave themselves up after five days in the jungle, Reuters reports. Rebels chained them to trees as punishment and took away their boots. "For FARC, Ingrid is the golden treasure in this wretched process," Perez said. Betancourt´s last words to him were, "Enjoy, enjoy every minute of your freedom," he said. (Read more Colombia stories.)

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