Former FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt renounced her petition for damages from the French government, after she was offered almost $600,000 in compensation for the six years she spent in the hands of the Colombian guerrilla group. According to French newspaper Journal du Dimanche, Betancourt deemed the amount awarded to be “insufficient.”
Betancourt announced Saturday via press release that she had rejected the “offer from the Victims Guarantees Fund,” which according to the Journal du Dimanche, met May 3 to examine the Colombian ex-politician’s petition.
In her press release, Betancourt expressed her thanks to “the French state for having generously recognized her right to reparation.”
“After giving up a claim in Colombia, Ingrid Betancourt wants to do the same with France, which strongly supported her during the six years since her abduction and release,” said the statement.
According to Journal de Dimanche, the Victims Guarantees Fund, which details the precise conditions in which indemnities may be awarded, agreed to provide Betancourt with “reduced financial compensation” because she had exposed herself to a situation which led to her kidnapping.
The French newspaper reports that Betancourt applied for compensation “months ago” from the French state.
“People who exposed themselves to danger can not obtain indemnity,” from the Victims Guarantees Fund, writes Journal du Dimanche.
Betancourt’s case was to be reviewed again in September, but the review was cancelled after she withdrew her claim.
The French-Colombian had also petitioned the Colombian government for damages to the value of $6.5 million, but withdrew the claim after she came under fire in the Andean nation for seeking compensation.
The Colombian government argued that Betancourt had no right to claim damages, and maintained that the former FARC hostage was explicitly warned not to enter the formerly demilitarized zone where she was kidnapped on February 23, 2002.
Military officials said that she signed a document accepting personal responsibility for her decision to enter, which Betancourt denies. The Colombian state cited DAS documents and video footage of Betancourt the day she was kidnapped as proof that she was aware of the risks she was taking by entering the Andean nation’s former DMZ.
Betancourt claimed that the Colombian state failed to provide her adequate protection to travel in the zone, stripping her of her bodyguards and refusing to allow her to fly by state helicopter into the heavily guerrilla-infiltrated area where she was kidnapped.
According to Betancourt, her petition for damages aimed to “open the way so that other people who have been kidnapped can get compensation.”
Keith Stansell, a U.S contractor and former hostage, who spent five years in FARC captivity with Betancourt said last week that it was the former presidential candidate’s “own arrogance that got her kidnapped.”
The Colombian army rescued Betancourt, Stansell, and thirteen other hostages in the highly celebrated liberation mission “Operation Checkmate” on July 2, 2008, a mission which Betancourt herself described as “perfect.”
Betancourt, a dual French-Colombian citizen, did not mention her petition when she was in Colombia to celebrate the two year anniversary of the rescue.
The former hostage now divides her time between New York and Paris.