The President of Colombia has admitted that a member of the rescue team which freed 15 hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt, from FARC rebels was illegally wearing the emblem of the Red Cross.
Speaking in Bogotá after being honoured for his part in the operation, Alvaro Uribe apologised for the transgression, describing it as “an unauthorised act by a nervous soldier”.
Falsely portraying troops as Red Cross personnel is illegal under international law. It undermines the organisation’s neutrality and could put humanitarian workers at risk in war zones.
The rescuers fooled the FARC rebels into releasing Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician, and 14 other hostages, by posing as fake international aid workers.
An inquiry was launched after reports that the Red Cross emblem had been glimpsed in footage of the operation.