The siege in Bogota--Uruguay's Ambassador to Colombia, Senor Fernando Gomez Fyns, leapt from the second floor of the Dominican Republic embassy in the Colombian capital on Monday, (17 March) in a daring escape from left-wing guerrillas holding about thirty hostages there.
GV ZOOM INTO SV SHOT of La Picota prison FROM Hillside near Bogota
GV Prison entrance
GV INTERIOR Enclosed yard prison
SV Prison guards in corridor
SV ZOOM INTO SV M-19 prisoners playing football in yard
SV PAN M-19 prisoners stand together shouting slogans
GV AND SV INTERIOR Prisoners in workshop doing woodwork and leatherwork, metal work (6 shots)
SCU Articles made in prison workshop lying on table
SV EXTERIOR ZOOM INTO CU Showing finished piece of wood carving in shape of first
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The siege in Bogota--Uruguay's Ambassador to Colombia, Senor Fernando Gomez Fyns, leapt from the second floor of the Dominican Republic embassy in the Colombian capital on Monday, (17 March) in a daring escape from left-wing guerrillas holding about thirty hostages there. His escape left the guerrillas, who belong to the M-19 organisation, holding eleven ambassadors and nineteen other people as bargaining countries for their negotiations with the Colombian government. Senor Gomez was taken to a military hospital for a check-up.
SYNOPSIS: On their list of demands, the guerrillas have asked for the release of seventy colleagues being held under heavy security in Colombian jail. Negotiations to effect their release have reached a deadlock. The Colombian government has already held five rounds of talks with the M-19 supporters occupying the embassy. But the government has completely rejected the guerrillas' terms.
Since the embassy was seized on February 27th, the guerrillas have scaled down their demands from an initial fifty million dollar ransom to ten million dollars. The number of colleagues they want released from jail is also well down from the three hundred and eleven originally demanded. But, as the siege goes on, the M-19 prisoners are said to be in high spirits. With negotiations at a standstill, increased pressure has been put on the Colombian government by nations with diplomatic personnel in the embassy, to find a solution to the crisis. Observers say the source of growing diplomatic irritation has been Colombia's reported insistence that its constitution does not permit President Julio Cesar Turbay to grant pardons or clemency to the M-19 prisoners.
In a move which could influence the negotiations, the Colombian government has handed a decree to the country's Supreme Court for its sanction. The decree would cut down the reading of huge amounts of evidence in trials of suspected guerrillas, and speed up military tribunals trying M-19 members and other alleged guerrillas.
The twenty-four Supreme Court magistrates have got forty days to sanction the decree or reject it as unconstitutional, though they are expected to hand down a judgement in less than two weeks.