Luis Díaz’s father speaks for first time since kidnap

Source: BBC 

Luis Manuel Díaz, the father of Liverpool striker Luis Diaz, has spoken publicly for the first time since being freed by a Colombian guerrilla group.

Mr Díaz said he was made to walk “too much” with little sleep, while he was kept in a mountainous area. 

“I would not want anyone to be in that mountain in the situation I was in,” he told reporters in a tearful interview. 

Mr Díaz was abducted on 28 October in his family’s hometown of Barrancas in Colombia.

In a news conference on Friday, the 58-year-old said those days had been a “very difficult” time for him.

Colombian police say four people have been arrested for being “allegedly responsible for Luis Manuel Díaz’s kidnapping”, according to local media. 

Police say that after a co-ordinated effort between Colombian and British authorities, a criminal group called “los primos” was dismantled.

Mr Díaz was held hostage until 9 November, when members of the National Liberation Army (ELN) handed him over to United Nations and Catholic Church officials.

Police had originally said that a criminal gang was most likely to blame for the kidnapping.

But a government delegation later said it had “official knowledge” that the kidnapping had been carried out by “a unit belonging to the ELN”.

The ELN is Colombia’s main remaining active guerrilla group. It has been fighting the state since 1964 and has an estimated 2,500 members.

It is most active in the border region with Venezuela, where Luis Manuel Díaz and his wife live.

The Liverpool footballer’s mother Cilenis Marulanda, who was kidnapped at gunpoint alongside Mr Díaz, was released within hours. 

While his father was held by the ELN, the Colombian-born Liverpool footballer repeatedly called for his release.

Days before his father’s release on Thursday, Díaz scored a goal against Luton and lifted his shirt to reveal the words in Spanish “freedom for papa”.

His family’s plight captured Colombia, as residents of the town of Barrancas held a candle-lit march to demand Mr Díaz’s release.

It all comes amid ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government led by President Gustavo Petro and the ELN. 

Mr Petro has come under strong criticism from the opposition over the negotiations, with former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe saying “with kidnappings there can be no peace”.

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