Freed kidnap victims return to Spain, plan to wed
A Spanish couple who got engaged live on television after being freed from kidnappers in Colombia arrived joyfully back in Spain on Monday.
Angel Sanchez Fernandez, wearing a red Spanish national football team shirt, told a news conference at Madrid’s Barajas airport that a date for the wedding had not yet been set.
“We just landed. We have to talk to our families. We have to discuss among ourselves,” the 49-year-old said when asked when the wedding would take place as he stood beside his longtime girlfriend Maria Concepcion Marlaska Sedano.
Fernandez asked Sedano, 43, to marry him at the end of the press conference they gave on Sunday at the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Bogota a day after they were released from their kidnappers in a police raid.
“I am going to do something that I thought I would never do, especially under these circumstances, which is to ask you to marry me. I hope you don’t say no. Do you want to be my wife?” he asked Sedano in the press conference broadcast live on Colombian and Spanish television.
“Yes,” Sedano quickly replied, adding that the kidnapping had taught her to value “the small things” in life.
Sedano, is a family member of a top Spanish judge, Fernando Grande-Marlaska. She and Fernandez are both from the northern Spanish city of Aviles.
The couple were abducted on May 17 in the northern Colombian province of La Guajira while travelling by car to the ecotourism destination of Cabo de la Vela.
“After being transported by car for two hours they made us get out of the car and they told us to get on our knees,” Fernandez said.
“At that moment we hugged each other, cried and recited the Lord’s Prayer out loud. We said good-bye to each other because we were 100 percent certain that they were going to kill us,” he added.
The hostages were freed in a raid carried out by a specialist Colombian anti-kidnapping police unit on Saturday in a rural area outside the city of Maicao near the border with Venezuela.
The head of the unit, Humberto Guatibonza, said the kidnappers were located after a partial ransom was paid to accomplices in Spain who were then arrested. The kidnappers had demanded 500,000 euros ($667,000).
The payment of part of that amount divided the kidnapping gang, as some wanted to free the captives and others wanted to press for the rest of the money, said Guatibonza.