Leftist rebels are expected to release two Colombian soldiers - one of whom has been held for 12 years - this weekend, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday. In addition, the remains of a police officer who died after eight years in captivity are to be handed over by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the ICRC said.
The ICRC discussed the matter a day after a member of the liberal opposition, Senator Piedad Cordoba, announced that the releases of Pablo Emilio Moncayo, 30, who has been held since 1997, and Josue Daniel Calvo, who has been held for one year, are to begin Saturday.
The remains of police Maj. Julian Ernesto Guevara are to be handed over also, Cordoba said in a posting on her Web site. Guevara had been held for eight years before he died in 2006, said ICRC spokesman Carlos Rios in Bogota. The releases and handover are expected to be carried out in two or three separate trips, each separated by at least 24 hours, Rios said.
According to the plan, helicopters are to arrive Friday at an airport in the city of Villavicencio and the first operation is to get under way Saturday morning, Cordoba said.
The Defense Ministry has agreed to halt all military actions and overflights in the area beginning 36 hours before the planned releases to guarantee the safety of participants, she said.
The ICRC has helped other victims of armed conflict in Colombia, including the February 2009 release of two civilians and four members of the security forces, said Christophe Beney, head of the ICRC delegation in Bogota.