Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Tuesday, August 10, 1999 Published at 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK


World: Americas

Venezuelan hijack passengers released

Pilot Hector Hernandez (left) shortly after his release

By Jeremy McDermott in Bogota

Eight passengers from a Venezuelan plane hijacked at the end of last month have been released by Colombian guerrillas.


Watch Jeremy McDermott's report
The passengers from the twin-engined Beechcraft, which was hijacked on 30 July, were returned to Venezuelan soil on Monday afternoon by Colombian Marxist rebels.

The plane and two pilots were released on Sunday.

President Hugo Chavez appeared on television thanking the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for their humanitarian gesture in releasing the plane, passengers and crew, skipping over the question of who was responsible for the hijack.


[ image: Co-pilot Luis Biggott was also released at the weekend]
Co-pilot Luis Biggott was also released at the weekend
The FARC claim that they found the plane in the remote border province of Arauca and that the hijackers fled when they arrived.

The pilot of the plane told a different story, saying the hijackers greeted the guerrillas warmly and stayed with the group for several days in the FARC camp.

Colombian authorities maintain that the FARC did carry out the hijacking, then, realising the public relations disaster it entailed and the potential damage it could do to relations with Venezuela, concocted the story of the hijacking having been committed by opponents of the Venezuelan President.

With this incident, President Chavez has again revealed his sympathy for the guerrilla movement and has made no secret of his eagerness to play a role in the peace process between the FARC and the Colombian Government.

His stance, however, is unlikely to endear him to the Colombian authorities.

The peace process is frozen and public support for the FARC almost non-existent as they have responded to government concessions by escalating the war and taking kidnapping to an all-time high.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

09 Aug 99 | Americas
Missing plane returns to Venezuela

02 Aug 99 | Americas
Colombian rebels blast police base

31 Jul 99 | Americas
FARC: Power versus principle

06 Mar 99 | Americas
US kidnap victims found dead

10 Jul 98 | Americas
Guerrillas' 40-year war





Internet Links


Republic of Colombia presidency

FARC (mainly in Spanish)

Dateline Venezuela


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Violence greets Clinton visit

Bush outlines foreign policy

Boy held after US school shooting

Memorial for bonfire dead

Senate passes US budget

New constitution for Venezuela

North Korea expels US 'spy'

Hurricane Lenny abates

UN welcomes US paying dues

Chavez praises 'advanced' constitution

In pictures: Castro strikes out Chavez

WTO: arbitration in EU-Ecuador banana dispute

Colombian army chief says rebels defeated

Colombian president lambasts rebels