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22 October 2013

Experience of Colombian police officer held hostage by FARC shared with INTERPOL General Assembly

‘Dios y Patria’ book launched during meeting recounts Sergeant Luis Erazo Maya’s years in captivity

CARTAGENA DE INDIAS, Colombia – A book describing the experience of a police sergeant held captive by guerrillas for almost 12 years in the Colombian jungle has been launched at INTERPOL’s 82nd General Assembly session.

Sergeant Luis Erazo Maya was captured in December 1999, when guerrillas from the FARC group (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) stormed the police station he was responsible for in the town of Curillo, on the edge of the Amazon rainforest in southern Colombia.

Named after the motto of the Colombian National Police, Dios y Patria (God and Country), the book was written by Dutch police officers as a testimony to Erazo’s dedication to law enforcement and as an inspiration to all those around the world who fight crime and terrorism.

It recounts how Erazo and his fellow police captives were chained up, watched 24 hours a day and forced to march for long days to set up new camps in the jungle as the guerrillas kept on the move from the Colombian authorities. Erazo finally escaped in November 2011, but his fellow captives were killed by their captors.

“Stories like this must not be forgotten,” said Chief Constable Patricia Zorko of the Dutch National Police. “This book is a tribute to him and all police officers who make sacrifices as part of the fight against crime and terrorism. It is also an appeal to all readers and authorities to do their utmost to combat crime and terrorism and not lose faith and confidence,” she added.

Invited to INTERPOL’s General Assembly, Sergeant Erazo presented the first copies of the book to Colombian and Dutch dignitaries, as well as INTERPOL’s President and Secretary General.

Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno, Colombia’s Minister for National Defence, spoke emotionally about Sergeant Erazo’s escape and thanked the Dutch police for telling the story. “Many of our police officers have died defending democracy and the life of their fellow Colombians. Other heroes are alive but are seriously injured. Sergeant Erazo lost many years of his life; 12 years which he spent in chains, in fear, undignified; this is unacceptable for any person.

“I hope this will inspire you to fight against crime and violence, and those who attack our values, rights and dignity as human beings,” Pinzón Bueno told the 630 senior law enforcement officials attending the General Assembly from 144 countries.

“This story is one of courage and determination, but also one of a man whose passionate belief in the role of the police in his country sustained him through the most desperate moments of his long captivity,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

The book is available in Dutch, English, French and Spanish, and is expected to go on general sale in 2014. Proceeds will go to help police victims and their families.