In separate lawsuits, four former FARC political hostages seek damages from the Colombian state for its alleged failure to provide them with adequate security, to the combined value of almost $15 million.
Former Congress members Gloria Polanco, Jorge Eduardo Gechem, Orlando Beltran, and Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo each filed a separate claim in the Colombian department of Huila between April and May of this year.
Colombia’s Comptroller General Julio Cesar Turbay said Wednesday that the state does not have sufficient funds to pay all the petitioners, in the event that all four win their lawsuits.
“The exaggerated number of claims is going to put the state in a situation where it cannot pay and could go bankrupt,” Turbay said.
Polanco, who was kidnapped along with her two sons on July 26, 2001, during an attack on the Miraflores Tower, in downtown Neiva, Huila, has the highest claim. On May 28 she filed for $6.6 million in damages against the Huila department, Colombian Congress, the Ministry of the Interior, the Defense Ministry, the national army and the Colombian presidency’s administrative department. The lawsuit seeks to find these entities responsible for the circumstances that led to her kidnapping.
Gechem, who was kidnapped on February 20, 2002, when he disembarked from a plane, filed a claim for $3.9 million on May 24 against the Defense Ministry, the National Police, the DAS, the Ministry of the Interior, Congress and the civil aviation authority.
Beltran, who was kidnapped on August 28, 2001 when traveling by car in a rural area of Huila, filed a claim for almost $650,000 against the Defense Ministry, the army, DAS, the Huila department, the National Police, Congress and the Colombian presidency’s administrative department.
Gonzalez, who was kidnapped on September 10, 2001, filed a claim on April 7, seeking $427,000 in damages from DAS, the Defense Ministry, the National Police and Congress. Another claim was filed by her daughter Patricia Perdomo.
All four former hostages were kidnapped by the FARC‘s “Teofilo Forero” column. Gonzalez was liberated by the FARC on January 10, 2008. The FARC later liberated Beltran, Polanco and Gechem on Febuary 27, 2008.
The revelation that the former politicians seek damages follow fellow former FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt’s withdrawal Tuesday of a similar claim, seeking $6.5 million from the Colombian state.
Betancourt drew intense criticism in Colombia over her quest for compensation, with both the government and the public arguing that she had assumed responsibility for her own safety, when she decided to enter Colombia’s formerly demilitarized zone despite strong advise not to. The FARC kidnapped Betancourt when she entered the zone on February 23, 2002.