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Kouchner: France paid no ransom for Betancourt

©

Latest update : 2008-07-06

France's foreign minister said "no French money" was paid to free hostages held by Colombian rebels. Meanwhile, former hostage Ingrid Betancourt got a clean bill of health from French military doctors.

Click here to send us your reactions following Ingrid Betancourt's rescue


In an interview with the French Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper published on Sunday, France's foreign affairs minister, Bernard Kouchner, denied a ransom was paid to Colombian rebels to release a group of hostages, including the French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.

"I never heard about any money," he said. "Clearly, there was no French money. That commando operation was only an infiltration operation, which was skilfully prepared over a long period of time."

Reports of a ransom being paid have been denied repeatedly by Colombian officials, and on Friday Colombia's military showed a video of hostages sobbing with relief aboard a helicopter upon discovering they had been freed.

The video was released to counter questions about the military's dramatic and bloodless coup, Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos denied reports that it was arranged in advance with the help of 20 million dollars (12.7 million euros) paid to bribe the hostages' guards.


Clean bill of health for Betancourt

Betancourt said she had been given a clean bill of health on Saturday after a series of medical tests at a Paris military hospital.

"The doctors showered me with good news. I have had a number of concerns all these years. Now, I'm totally happy," she told France 3.

The 46-year-old former hostage, who was freed on Wednesday, spent almost seven hours at the Val-de-Grace military hospital.

She said she was "very, very surprised" not to have any physical side effects after more than six years of captivity in the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

"The spirit helps you to carry on," said Betancourt, who has often spoken of her Catholic faith and of a "spiritual protection".

However, doctors have warned against the psychological effects of captivity following the initial euphoria, including depression and lack of self-confidence which could be lasting.

Date created : 2008-07-06

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