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Colombia probes Swiss mediator payoff to FARC

Latest update : 2008-07-15

Colombia has launched an investigation over allegations that a Swiss hostage mediator, Jean-Pierre Gontard, paid 500,000 dollars to the FARC rebels. Fifteen hostages were released from the FARC earlier this month.

Colombia's public prosecutor announced Tuesday the launch of an investigation into Swiss mediator Jean-Pierre Gontard, who is suspected of paying 500,000 dollars to the leftist FARC guerrillas.
  
"There are elements of this investigation which have led to us to consider whether he (Gontard) could be the head of, or participant in, an illegal association," prosecutor Mario Iguaran told private radio W.
  
The probe was launched on the basis of statements made by Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who accused Gontard of paying a FARC associate 500,000 dollars in March in Costa Rica, Iguaran said.
  
Gontard's name also came up repeatedly on the computer of Raul Reyes, a top FARC leader who was killed March 1 in a cross Colombian cross-border military raid in Ecuador, he said.
  
The Colombian military this month tricked the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia into releasing 15 hostages who had been held for years in the jungle, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans.

Date created : 2008-07-15

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