(CNN Spanish) — A US federal judge ordered the demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla and more than a dozen of its former members to pay $36 million to the son of former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who spent more than six years kidnapped by the group in the early 2000s, according to court documents obtained by CNN on Thursday.
In his Jan. 4 decision, Pennsylvania Intermediate District Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann said he ruled against the defendants because they failed to appear in court.
In total there are 14 defendants: the FARC as a group plus 13 other former members, according to court documents. Among them stands out Luciano Marín, better known as “Iván Márquez”, who now remains in hiding since he is one of the leaders of the dissidents of the demobilized guerrilla.
CNN is working to find out where and in what condition the others named in the lawsuit are, although at least two of them, Henry Castellanos Garzón, alias “Romaña”, and Helí Mejía Mendoza, alias “Martín Sombra”, would have died in clashes, according to Colombian authorities.
The lawsuit, filed by Lawrence Delloye in 2018, alleged that the FARC and the defendants caused him to suffer “significant emotional distress” during the kidnapping of his mother, the law firm that represented him, Scarinci Hollenbeck, explained in a statement Thursday.
“While no amount of money can replace the time Lawrence Delloye lost with his mother or heal the trauma suffered at the hands of the FARC, we are proud to have helped bring about some justice,” Robert E. Levy said in the statement. president of the firm.
According to the lawyers, Delloye, who was 13 years old when Betancourt was kidnapped, will receive US$12 million while the rest will be used to pay legal representation costs.
The kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt
Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped by the FARC in February 2002 when she was running for the presidency of Colombia. She was released in July 2008 during the so-called “Operation Check”, carried out by the Army and in which three Americans and more than a dozen soldiers and police officers were also released.
Until this Thursday, Betancourt had not spoken publicly about the ruling. CNN contacted its press officer on Thursday and said that they would be issuing a position soon, although they did not specify when.
In June 2021, former members of the FARC acknowledged their responsibility to the kidnapping victims and offered an apology to all those affected by these deprivations of liberty. On that occasion, Betancourt thanked the acknowledgment of the crimes, although he pointed out that reparation for the victims was still a pending issue to be resolved.
— Fernando Ramos of CNN en Español in Bogotá contributed to this report.