For four years a huge photograph of Ingrid Betancourt has hung outside the town hall in Paris. Just 48 hours after she was freed from the jungles of Colombia, she pulled it down – it is no longer needed. French/Colombian Betancourt was met by President Nicolas Sarkozy when she arrived in France earlier to a hero’s welcome.
She and 14 others were rescued in an undercover army operation. However Swiss radio has claimed a 13 million euro ransom was paid and the operation was staged.
It is a claim Betancourt dismissed, saying: “I don’t think I witnessed a set-up, there was a degree of tension… the moment seemed to stretch out into eternity… it was so stressful that my comrades held back, they didn’t want to get into the helicopter.”
Betancourt was reunited with her children – Melanie and Lorenzo – in Bogota yesterday. But despite her evident joy, she has not forgotten those still in the jungle, and has secured a promise from the French president that he will not forget them either.