Ex-Farc member given French asylum

Ex-rebel who helped free politician receives asylum in France as reward for actions.

    Betancourt, left, said she wanted Bueno to fly with her to Paris to send a message to Farc [AFP]

    'Beautiful future'

    Lilia Isabel Banol, Bueno's girlfriend, who deserted the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia three months ahead of him, was also on the Air France flight which arrived at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport on Wednesday.

    Ahead of the flight, Bueno said: "I'm going to France to get to know it. We'll have to see what awaits us there, we hope it's a beautiful future and I'd like to thank those who have helped and facilitated our trip to France."

    Betancourt, a former presidential candidate who was rescued in a bloodless July military mission, said she wanted Bueno to fly with her to Paris to send a message to Farc, who still hold other hostages, and to help ease him into a new life.

    Authorities in Colombia have dropped rebellion charges against Bueno, but Juan Manuel Santos, the country's defence minister, said the money should not be seen as a reward for kidnapping, but for brave actions in facilitating the escape of Lizcano.

    Santos said: "It is extremely clear that we are not rewarding a kidnapping but a brave attitude of somebody who did not agree with the kidnapping of Mr Lizcano and who facilitated, from his position inside the Farc, his release."

    Colombian prosecutors said Bueno had not participated in the kidnapping of Lizcano, a Colombian congressman, eight years earlier.

    Santos said Bueno, a 12-year Farc veteran who lost his left eye in combat, would receive part of his reward in a bank account in France and part would stay in Colombia for his family.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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