• Kyodo


A Japanese businessman kidnapped in Colombia in February was seen in an incarceration camp of Colombia’s largest leftist guerrilla group on the outskirts of Bogota at the end of April, Colombian security sources said Friday.

The sources quoted a Colombian hostage rescued in early May as saying the Japanese, believed to be Chikao Muramatsu, 52, vice president of a local joint venture of Japanese auto parts maker Yazaki Corp., appeared healthy.

The camp of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is located near Chuscales in Cundinamarca Province, some 40 km northeast of Bogota.

The report was the first news about Muramatsu in about two months. At the end of March, locals spotted him walking along a farm road accompanied by guerrilla soldiers in an area of Cundinamarca.

The Colombian hostage was quoted as saying that Muramatsu and some Colombians were held captive in individual rooms at the camp, which is on a mountainside.

Security authorities believe Muramatsu is still being held at the camp under the control of Henry Castellanos, also known as Commander Romana, who is said to be in charge of kidnapping and blackmailing in the FARC.

Muramatsu was kidnapped Feb. 22 in northern Bogota while on his way home and was subsequently handed over to the FARC rebels.

Local media earlier reported the rebels are demanding a ransom of about $7 million for Muramatsu’s release.

Colombian security authorities say some 3,700 people were kidnapped last year alone in the South American country. More than 200 foreigners have also been kidnapped in the last five years.

About 80 percent of kidnapping cases in the world have occurred in Central and Latin American countries in recent years, about half of them in Colombia.

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