Page last updated at 22:01 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 23:01 UK

Betancourt's medical 'good news'

Ingrid Betancourt, after arriving in Paris, 5/07/08
Ingrid Betancourt said she was delighted at the medical reports

Ingrid Betancourt has said she is delighted with the results of initial medical tests carried out after being freed as a hostage of Colombian rebels.

The French-Colombian politician spent six years in captivity and pictures that emerged earlier this year showed her looking frail.

The 46-year-old is in Paris, where she flew after her release on Wednesday.

Colombia earlier released video footage of the daring rescue operation, showing the joy of the freed captives.

In an interview on France-3 television, Ms Betancourt said the news that she appeared to have suffered no long-term damage to her health had "filled [her] with joy" after years of worries.

"The doctors showered me with good news," she said.

Ms Betancourt said she now intended to relax, adding: "I want to take time to really enjoy this happiness with my children. This time of rest, it's a time I dreamed of."

Her sister, Astrid Betancourt, had earlier told the French news agency AFP that the results of the medical tests were "rather reassuring" but that Ingrid needed rest.

The checks were carried out at the Val-de-Grace military hospital in Paris, which Ms Betancourt left on Saturday evening.

'Suffered terribly'

Asked by France-3 about reports on a Swiss radio station that a $20m ransom had been paid to the rebels, Ms Betancourt dismissed the idea - but said she would not have cared if it were the case.

"If it were true, so much the better. Why not?" she said. "I suffered terribly."

She described one of her captors, who she called Enrique, as being a man "of special cruelty".


Footage of Ingrid Betancourt's rescue

The Colombian government has denied rumours that a ransom was paid to free the hostages.

The former Colombian presidential candidate was freed along with 14 other hostages after their captors were apparently tricked into handing them over to army personnel disguised as independent agency staff.

On Friday Ms Betancourt - who grew up, studied and raised her family in France - was flown from Colombia to Paris on a French presidential plane.

"I am so happy to breathe the air of France. I owe France everything," she said, after President Nicolas Sarkozy greeted her on the tarmac.

"We had been waiting for this for so long," said Mr Sarkozy, who had made Ms Betancourt's release a top priority.

Ingrid Betancourt after her release 2 July 2008
Born on 25 December 1961
Grows up in Paris
1989: Returns to Colombia
1994: Elected to lower house
1998: Becomes a senator
2002: Kidnapped by Farc rebels

Mr Sarkozy's physician, Christophe Fernandez, briefly examined Ms Betancourt in Bogota following her release and said he was "reassured", without ruling out a stay in hospital.

The Colombian government released video footage on Friday of the hostage rescue.

The captives are seen wearing plastic handcuffs and looking dismayed as they are led on to a helicopter.

Later, it shows the captives' joyous reaction when they are told they are not being moved to another rebel camp, but have been rescued by the army.

In the interim, the hostages' guards were overpowered by soldiers on the helicopter.

Colombian soldiers, posing as members of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), filmed the operation.

Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos denied reports that $20m had been paid to some Farc members to assist the operation.

He also denied reports that Israeli and US agents had been involved in the operation, saying it had been "100% Colombian".

Reuters Colombia tricks rebels in bloodless hostage rescue - 7 hrs ago
Denver Post "Miracle" rescue frees Colombia hostages - 7 hrs ago Betancourt to Meet Sarkozy, Says France Kept Her Alive - 7 hrs ago
CNN Hostages freed; Uribe calls for peace - 7 hrs ago
Sky News Colombian Hostage Relives Rescue - 7 hrs ago

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