Priest says hostage Betancourt weeps, has lost will to live
( dpa ) - A Roman Catholic priest active in a jungle area in southern Colombia said Friday that Ingrid Betancourt, the long-held hostage of leftist rebels, appears to have "lost the will to live" and wept when villagers spoke to her.
Some 300 rebels escorted the one-time Colombian presidential candidate Betancourt - reportedly very ill from Hepatitis B and leishmaniasis - to see a doctor in a southern Colombian town, Father Manuel Mancera told Colombian media.
Betancourt, kidnapped in February 2002 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was taken to a health centre on the outskirts of San Jose del Guaviare February 20-25, Father Manuel Mancera said.
The priest said several of his parishioners told him they witnessed the FARC operation, with many armed men at the hamlet El Capricho while a doctor saw Betancourt.
"There were 200-300 rebels. They cordoned off the health centre," Mancera told Colombian media.
The priest said several locals recognized Betancourt and even had contact with her. One man took her hand to encourage her, but the woman - who holds dual French-Colombian citizenship and is the most high-profile hostage held by FARC - burst into tears.
"Ingrid has lost the will to live," Mancera said.
He added that according to those who saw her, Betancourt is in a profound state of depression and cries a lot.
"She does not want to talk to anybody, she does not want to keep eating, she does not want to know anything about this world, she is very emaciated," the priest said. "The peasant told her to stay calm, to cheer up, but she is in a final state of depression."
"She is about to say a word, and she just cries," Mancera said.