The parents of Liverpool star Luis Diaz were abducted by armed men on motorcycles at a petrol station in the town of Barrancas, near Colombia’s border with Venezuela on Saturday 28 October.
Luis’ father, Luis Manuel Diaz was released on Thursday (9 Nov) after spending 12 days in the hands of guerrillas. The 26-year-old footballer’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, however, was rescued within hours of being kidnapped, by police after roadblocks were set up.
Diaz Sr has revealed details of his captivity – and said he intends to keep living in Colombia despite his ordeal.
During a press conference, the 58-year-old said his kidnappers had advised him to remain calm.
He said he had “almost 12 days without sleep” and had to endure “a lot of quite difficult horseback riding, lots of mountains, rain”.
“Even though the treatment was good, I didn’t feel very comfortable,” he said.
“I want to thank God for this beautiful opportunity to return home,” he said through a megaphone. “Thank you to all the people of Barrancas, La Guajira (the region in which the town lies) and Colombia for the support they gave to my family. I love you very much. Soon we will have the opportunity to greet you and hug you.”
Before this, special forces were deployed to search for Diaz, with air and land patrols trawling a mountain range that straddles both Colombia and Venezuela – as Colombia’s police director vowed to use every agent to find him.
A reward of $48,000 (£39,000) was offered for information leading police to the hostage.
The Liverpool winger had pleaded with his father’s captors to release him – and said he and his brothers were in a “desperate” situation.
Kidnapping “should never have happened”
According to the Colombian FA, Diaz was handed back over to his family on Thursday 9 November. Reports say he was handed over to the UN humanitarian commission, the church and medical personnel in the Serrania del Perija region by guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN).
Those negotiating peace talks with the ELN celebrated Mr Diaz’s freedom – but made it clear the kidnapping “should never have happened”.
All people being held by the ELN must be liberated, the statement added, though it did not give a figure for the remaining hostages.
The Colombian FA thanked the government, the military, authorities and everyone involved in securing Mr Diaz’s release, adding: “Behind a ball, the dreams and illusions of boys and girls, young people, women, men and adult soccer players, their loved ones and an entire country roll.
“Football is passion in peace. Let no one ever think of attacking that reality again.”
Colombian President Gustavo Petro added: “Long live freedom and peace.” — Malaysiaxpress