Colombian rebels release Japanese hostage

Colombia`s FARC rebels had demanded a $540,000 ransom for Tsutsui`s release.

Updated: Aug 16, 2010, 09:41 AM IST

Bogota: Colombia`s FARC rebels on Sunday released a Japanese businessman they had kidnapped in March, after police were hot on his trail in the countryside near Cali, Police Chief Miguel Bojaca said.

Masao Tsutsui, 69, was taken "for medical tests in Cali, where he met with his family”, Bojaca said in a telephone interview.

The businessman was kidnapped on March 23 near Cali by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, who demanded a USD 540,000 ransom for his release. Bojaca said initial reports show the ransom was not paid.

He said Tsutsui`s release came "after strong law enforcement pressure" along the Florida-Miranda townships border, near Cali, 500 kilometres (310 miles) southeast of Bogota.

He said police Anti Kidnapping units had been looking for the hostage for several months and had gotten close to where he was being held.

"The criminals abandoned him in a farming area when they felt the police pressure," he added.

A suspected member of the FARC`s sixth front, which operates in the area, was arrested during the operation, the police chief said.

Tsutsui came to Colombia 30 years ago and is the father of four children, officials said.

Despite his five-month ordeal as a hostage, the Japanese businessman said he has no intention of either leaving Cali or returning to Japan, Bojaca said.

FARC, Colombia`s oldest and strongest leftist guerrilla group, holds scores of hostages, including police and soldiers, whom they want to exchange for hundreds of FARC prisoners in Colombian jails.

Both former president Alvaro Uribe and his successor, Juan Manuel Santos, have refused to negotiate with the rebels until they halt all acts of violence.

Defence Minister Rodrigo Rivera on Sunday rebuffed a FARC offer of dialogue made before Santos took office on August 07, telling the El Espectador daily in an interview: "There is no dialogue with those who turn to terrorism."

Bureau Report