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Colombia: OAS hostages freed by the ELN

06-11-1997 News Release 97/44

Two officials of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the coordinator of the human rights programme of the Department of Antioquia were released on 1 November after having been held for nine days by a Colombian armed opposition group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Manfredo Marroquín, a Guatemalan national, and Raúl Martínez, a Chilean national, both OAS election monitors, and a Colombian official, Juan Diego Ardila, were abducted by the ELN as they were travelling by car near Medellín on 23 October. The conditions for their release were agreed upon after lengthy negotiations between the ELN and a mediation commission comprising representatives of the National Reconciliation Commission (CCN), the Antioquia Peace Commission and the government.

The ICRC took part in the negotiation process and carried out the logistical arrangements for the release of the hostages, who were taken away in three helicopters bearing the ICRC emblem. They were later transferred to the town of Santa Ana, in Antioquia, where they met members of the CCN and the international election-monitoring commission.