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France

Fellow hostages criticise Betancourt in new book

©

Video by Claire PRYDE

Latest update : 2009-02-27

The heroic status of former hostage Ingrid Betancourt has been tarnished after a book published by fellow captives accuses her of being domineering, even treacherous.The writers say the Franco-Colombian was "a selfish, domineering woman."

AFP - The heroic status of former hostage Ingrid Betancourt takes a hit in a book published Friday, with fellow ex-captives describing the French-Colombian politician as domineering and even treacherous.
   
Three US men who were held by Marxist FARC guerrillas in the Colombian jungle for more than five years wrote in "Out of Captivity" that Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate, was "a selfish, domineering woman."
   
The book, released this week, is the account by Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Tom Howes of their 1,967 days with the FARC before a dramatic rescue operation by the Colombian military in July, 2008.
   
The trio were captured after their light airplane crashed in FARC territory in February 2003 during a US government surveillance flight.
   
Betancourt was the highest profile prisoner of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and spent more than six years captive before the rescue.
   
She says she plans to write her own book on the ordeal and that she still suffers nightmares about her experiences. There is also interest in Hollywood in turning the story into a film.
   
But according to the three writers, Betancourt was not always quite a hero -- refusing to share, acting arrogantly, and telling the guards that the American captives were from the CIA.
   
"Ingrid had sent notes to (FARC commander) Sombra telling him that we were CIA agents and she wanted us out of there for that reason," Stansell writes in the book, where the narration alternates between the three men.
   
Gonsalves relates that Betancourt wanted the camp commander to refuse them space in her shelter.
   
"She wasn't making a request, but issuing a command. She wanted us put in some other part of camp."
   
Stansell emerges as the most bitter about Betancourt.
   
His co-author Gonsalves says that Stansell "complained about Ingrid's selfishness to anyone who would listen."
   
Gonsalves writes that when Betancourt finally agreed to share her radio with him, his opinion softened.
   
"Maybe she was not the person we thought she was. Maybe Ingrid has a far more complicated and multi-dimensional person than she'd allowed us to believe."
   
Betancourt did not respond to AFP requests for comment.
 

Date created : 2009-02-27

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