Betancourt says she won't sue Colombian government

12th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Former FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt is insisting she has no intention of suing the Colombian government, despite seeking nearly seven million dollars in damages for her six years in captivity.

But in a tearful prime-time television interview from New York on Sunday, Betancourt criticized the government's handling of her case, saying it stripped her of bodyguards when she was running for president and allowed her to travel on the road controlled by the leftist guerillas where she was nabbed.

The interview came two days after the Defense Ministry said the Franco-Colombian former hostage had asked the government to pay her and her relatives 13,000 pesos (6.9 million dollars) for financial and psychological damages for the years she spent held captive in the jungle.

She has the option of filing a lawsuit if she does not accept the government's response, but Betancourt, 48, said she would not do so.

From the beginning, she and her team decided "we would not file a lawsuit against the Colombian government," she told Caracol television.

"We never, never thought about attacking those who freed me," she said, fighting back tears during a lengthy interview. "I love my country."

News of the compensation request, which Betancourt herself called "astronomic" but also "symbolic," fueled indignation in Colombia.

Vice President Francisco Santos said Betancourt had just won the "world prize for ungratefulness," adding that he was "sad, outraged and disappointed."

Betancourt and 14 other hostages -- including three US military contractors -- were freed by the Colombian military during its "Operation Jaque" on July 2, 2008.

© 2010 AFP

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