BOGOTA, Colombia – The former husband of French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt said Sunday that he fears Colombia's government is offering to free imprisoned guerrillas in exchange for her release because they believe she is dead.
Following the Colombian offer, France's government sent a plane to a military airport in French Guiana in case Betancourt is freed. It said, however, it had no information on any imminent release of Betancourt, who is believed to be gravely ill after six years of captivity.
In an interview with Caracol radio Sunday, Fabrice Delloye said he feared Betancourt was dead because families of the rebel hostages had begged the government for years to agree to a hostage exchange without any success.
"We were asking for the humanitarian exchange, a humanitarian gesture from President (Alvaro) Uribe and nothing had come of it, and now in the last two or three days this news comes out ... it's obvious that the Colombian army, the Colombian government has some news or has intercepted some communication from the" rebels, said Delloye, the father of Betancourt's two children.
Pressed if he worried that the information the government may possess is that Betancourt is dead, Delloye answered: "It's true, that is my concern, that is my fear."
On Saturday, Uribe said what the Colombian government has found out about Betancourt is "what the whole community has heard — a delicate state."
The FARC are demanding that the government give a temporary demilitarized zone in southwest Colombia so it can negotiate a deal to free hundreds of imprisoned rebels in exchange for around 40 high-value hostages, including Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors. Uribe has so far rejected any such zone.
On Thursday night after an emergency meeting with Uribe, Colombia's top peace negotiator said the government had signed a decree that would set free rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, if the group first released some hostages, including Betancourt who was kidnapped in February 2002.
A day after the announcement, government critic Sen. Gustavo Petro released a statement saying he worried that Betancourt was dead and the government was attempting to show the world it had done everything possible to achieve her liberation.
Since the release of images of a gaunt and depressed looking Betancourt in November, followed by the testimonies of six recently released hostages, "we all know that Ingrid's physical health is more than just worrisome," said Delloye.
Betancourt "needs medical assistance immediately and the FARC cannot get it for her in the jungle."
Hostages who shared a jungle captivity with Betancourt and were freed earlier this year say she is suffering from hepatitis.
The Elysee Palace in Paris said the Falcon 900 plane was at the Cayenne airport until Monday morning ready "for any eventuality" concerning a possible release of Betancourt.