Hostage mediator denies Colombian allegations

Swiss mediator Jean-Pierre Gontard has denied allegations that he transported ransom money to Colombian rebels during hostage negotiations.

This content was published on July 20, 2008 - 14:45

Gontard told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that he had never passed on funds to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) while negotiating the release of two employees of Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis in 2001.

Earlier this week, Colombia's public prosecutor announced there would be a probe into whether the Swiss mediator carried $500,000 (SFr503,000) for the Farc.

The Colombian investigation centres on documents reportedly found on the computer of the former Farc number two.

Gontard does not deny an e-mail exchange with Raul Reyes, who was killed by the Colombian army on March 1 in Ecuador. He said however that any communication was carried out as part of his mediation efforts.

The mediator also rejected claims he was the source of the rumour that money was exchanged for the release of hostage Ingrid Betancourt.

Bogota announced on July 10 that it no longer wanted Switzerland, France and Spain to operate as mediators in its conflict with the Farc.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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