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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 December, 2003, 16:11 GMT
Freed hostage tells of ordeal
Mark Henderson with parents Christopher and Sharelle on Christmas Day
Mr Henderson was looking forward to turkey after living on pumpkin
Freed hostage Mark Henderson has said he is bitter but not angry at being kept in captivity for 102 days by Colombian rebels.

The 32-year-old was enjoying Christmas Day at his parents' house in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, after arriving back in the UK on Christmas Eve.

Mr Henderson, who was captured during a jungle trek, was freed along with four Israelis by members of the left-wing ELN on Monday.

He said: "It is weird to say I'm not angry, more bitter. They have taken three months of my life. Compared to what other people have had, it's not that bad."

Mr Henderson - who survived on pumpkin for days during his ordeal - said he was looking forward to tucking in to Christmas dinner.

"I was a bit worried about holding it down as it is quite rich food, but I'm looking forward to it, especially the sprouts."

"I've had the famous pizza and glass of wine and last night I visited my uncle and aunt and cousins, it was just great.

Henderson family
The TV producer broke down the day he learned he was to be freed

"My nephew said to me if I hadn't come home soon he was going to join me and fight the baddies.

"At the moment I feel anaesthetised, just numb. It was emotional but maybe in three days' time I will be a gibbering wreck."

The TV producer said he had not had a chance to open the hundreds of cards from wellwishers or read his 500 emails.

Mr Henderson's father Christopher said: "It hasn't really sunk in yet but it's brilliant having him here on Christmas Day.

"He was talking until the small hours of this morning, saying that I've only heard a fraction of his experiences."

I just cracked - I was not just trying to be the strong one, I was just sobbing
Mark Henderson

His mother Sharelle added: "It's just wonderful to have him here for Christmas, it's lovely."

The former hostage said the hardest part of his captivity was the day he learned he was about to be released.

"That day we had refused to walk. Physically we couldn't go any further. We were manhandled and dragged out and made to walk.

"When we stopped, I broke down. I just cracked. I was not just trying to be the strong one, I was just sobbing."

Mr Henderson said he had made lifelong friends with his fellow hostages and intended to phone Matthew Scott, a 19-year-old from London who managed to escape.

He was among eight tourists held by the ELN - the National Liberation Army - on 12 September, during a trek through the 2,500-year-old Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) Indian ruins.

Their release came after mediation by Catholic church negotiators working as part of a human rights commission.

The rebels said they kidnapped the men to publicise the persecution of Indian villagers by rightwing paramilitaries, and not for a ransom.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Mark Henderson
"The support everyone's given each other is amazing"



SEE ALSO:
Colombia hostage tastes freedom
23 Dec 03  |  England
Colombia hostages freed at last
22 Dec 03  |  Americas
Colombia's kidnappers-in-chief
22 Dec 03  |  Americas
In pictures: Hostages' release
22 Dec 03  |  Photo Gallery
Colombia rebels free two hostages
25 Nov 03  |  Americas


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