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Colombian rebels release video of captive reporter

(Xinhua)

08:20, May 29, 2012

BOGOTA, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces ( FARC) Monday released video footage of captive French journalist Romeo Langlois two days before his scheduled handover Wednesday.

The video, parts of which were aired on Latin American television network Telesur, shows a relaxed, smiling Langlois answering questions put to him by a female FARC member about the events surrounding his capture on April 28.

After identifying himself on camera as a civilian journalist, the 35-year-old correspondent for France 24 and Le Figaro said he knew he was entering a "hot zone" when he accompanied a Colombian Army unit on an anti-narcotics operation, but "didn't think it would get so terrible."

The soldiers "were going to destroy a lab, and I was going to take some photos," said Langlois.

The interview was apparently taped shortly after his capture and shows rebel medics attending to his gunshot wound.

Langlois said he had interviewed important FARC leaders in the past, adding "I have been one of the journalists that the government has never liked very much, because I have always gone to both sides to get everyone's opinion."

Initially, rebels demanded an international debate on freedom of information as a precondition for his release, claiming reporters embedded with the army failed to report the facts objectively. That demand was flatly rejected by the Colombian government, but the rebels decided to release Langlois anyway.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Monday announced the security protocols to be followed for Langlois' release Wednesday to a humanitarian commission composed of the ICRC, former Colombian senator Piedad Cordoba and a French government envoy.

According to the protocols, the FARC must inform the commission of the general location for his release "no later than 1 p.m. local time (1800 GMT) May 29," so military operations can be suspended in the area.

The FARC must then "deliver to the humanitarian mission the exact location of the handover by no later than 7 p.m. May 30, to guarantee that the mission can be carried out" regardless of weather conditions or other emergencies, the protocols stated.

The security conditions were agreed to and signed by Colombia's Deputy Minister of Defense Jorge Enrique Bedoya, France's Ambassador to Colombia Pierre-Jean Vandoorne, and Jordi Raich, chief of the ICRC in Colombia.

Wearing a helmet and flak jacket, Langlois was embedded with an army unit charged with destroying a cocaine laboratory in Caqueta province when they clashed with members of the FARC's 15th Front. Three soldiers and a police officer died in the ensuing gunfight.

Days later, the FARC confirmed they had captured him as a " prisoner of war."

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