Tags: Colombia | soldier | parasite | disease

Freed Colombian Soldier Has Parasite Disease

Wednesday, 31 Mar 2010 08:21 PM

BOGOTA — A just-freed Colombian soldier who was held by rebels for more than 12 years suffered from leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease, but his overall physical and mental health is sound, doctors said Wednesday.

Sergeant Pablo Emilio Moncayo was turned over by leftist rebels at a jungle clearing and flown by helicopter to his awaiting family in Florencia, Colombia, on Tuesday.

"You don't know how wonderful it is to see civilization once again," an emotional Moncayo said after getting off the helicopter and hugging his father in the city 580 kilometers (360 miles) south of Bogota.

Moncayo, 32, was the second soldier the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia promised to release some time ago in negotiations with Senator Piedad Cordoba, who was also present at the release site.

Corporal Daniel Calvo, 22, was released on Sunday after almost one year in captivity.

Moncayo's release was attributed in part to tireless campaigning by his father, a 58-year-old university professor who for years traveled across Colombia, his neck and arms in chains, to draw attention to his son's plight.

Moncayo "did suffer from episodes of leishmaniasis, which fortunately were controlled in a satisfactory manner," said Nohra Rodriguez, the medical chief at the capital's Military Hospital.

The former hostage also had some bruising and hypoglycemia, she said, stressing that they had been treated.

"Mentally, he is doing quite well" and underwent testing at the hospital before he was released so that he could stay with his family members at a hotel in the capital, Rodriguez added.

His father told a news briefing "it was just too moving, really, to wake up all together as a family. I opened my eyes and heard him speaking to his Mom, looking at photos and whispering.

"We really deserved that first night together, because we have fought so hard," his father added.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the United States "welcomes" the release of the two Colombian hostages.

"We send our best wishes to them and to their families and we continue to call upon the FARC to release all its remaining hostages," Toner told reporters.

"We also support President Uribe's effort to secure the safe release of all hostages."

Moncayo was kidnapped on December 21, 1997, when he was a 19-year-old army corporal. He was promoted to sergeant while in captivity.

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BOGOTA — A just-freed Colombian soldier who was held by rebels for more than 12 years suffered from leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease, but his overall physical and mental health is sound, doctors said Wednesday.
Colombia,soldier,parasite,disease
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2010-21-31
 
 

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