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A federal court in Pennsylvania sentenced FARC guerrillas and several of their leaders to pay 36 million dollars for the kidnapping of Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt for more than six years, lawyers for the prosecution said on Thursday.
The ruling, handed down on January 4 by Pennsylvania federal court Judge Matthew Bran and made known today by a statement from the lawyers, indicates that FARC must pay $12 million in compensatory damages to Betancourt’s son, Lawrence Delloye, who filed the lawsuit in June 2018 and who was a teenager when his mother was kidnapped.
Added to that $12 million are attorneys’ fees, bringing the total to more than $36 million, said the law firm handling the prosecution, the Scarinci Hollenbeck firm.
Delloye argued in his complaint that the FARC and its leaders had violated the Anti-Terrorism Law and that the kidnapping of his mother had caused him significant emotional stress.
“While no amount of money can replace the time Lawrence Delloye lost without his mother or heal the trauma suffered at the hands of the FARC, we are proud to have been able to achieve some form of justice,” Robert Levy, Scarinci Hollenbeck’s attorney, said in a statement.
The case was able to be brought before the U.S. courts because Delloye was a U.S. citizen, born in San Bernardino, California, in 1988.
“The FARC and its members led the plaintiff to suffer damages associated with the separation from his mother, as suffer emotional stress by not knowing if his mother was dead or alive, or if he would be reunited with her,” Delloye alleged in the complaint.
In his sentence, the judge notes that of the 15 accused FARC leaders, only one, Juan José Martínez Vega, responded to the accusations, while the rest have not appeared in court for the past three and a half years.
Ingrid Betancourt, now 61, was kidnapped in February 2002 during a visit as part of her presidential campaign to a FARC-controlled area of southern Colombia.
In July 2008 she was rescued, along with 14 other FARC hostages, by Colombian soldiers posing as aid workers from an international humanitarian organization.