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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 February, 2005, 05:16 GMT
Three-year hostage ordeal marked
Ingrid Betancourt's family
Ingrid Betancourt's family want a hostage-prisoner exchange
Ceremonies have been held in France and Colombia to mark the three years since former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt was taken hostage.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) snatched her as she was on the campaign trail in February 2002.

A huge poster of Ms Betancourt has been erected at Paris' City Hall. She has dual French-Colombian nationality.

In Bogota, a mass was held for the politician at the Colombian capital's main cathedral.

Her mother, Yolanda Pulecio, was among those at the mass.

Government accused

She told how she missed her daughter.

"It is a pain that does not end. From the moment I open my eyes until I go to sleep I am thinking of her, of what is happening to her and how her life is and I search for a way out," she said.

She accused the Colombian government of doing nothing to help.

Commemoration in Paris for Ingrid Betancourt
French supporters spell out 'peace' in Spanish

Ms Betancourt's husband, Juan Carlos Lecompte, also said officials did not treat his complaints seriously.

"For the government, it's a bit like I have lost my dog," he told the French newspaper Liberation.

Ms Betancourt's family want the government to engage in a swap of hostages for Farc prisoners in Colombian jails.

They want increased pressure from France and the EU.

The 43-year-old French-educated mother-of-two is one of the Farc's most prized hostages, because of her international reputation.

Groups representing the families of other Colombian hostages, however, have complained that Ms Betancourt should take up so much attention.

"It is deplorable and an aberration that the world, and above all France, waves a flag demanding Ingrid's release, and not those of the more than 5,000 people who are being held hostage in Colombia," said Gustavo Munoz, of the New Hope Foundation.

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12 Nov 02 |  Americas

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