- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2008

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP)— DNA analysis indicates a 3-year-old boy living in a Bogota foster home is the son of a woman held captive by leftist rebels for nearly six years, Colombia’s top prosecutor said yesterday.

Agence France-Presse reported late yesterday that the rebels had confirmed the boy is in foster care, citing the Agencia Bolivariana de Prensa news agency.

The DNA results suggest President Alvaro Uribe was right — and that the rebels misled Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the world when they promised to release the boy named Emmanuel along with his mother, Clara Rojas, and another hostage from their jungle camps.

“The conclusion of the scientific experts is that there’s a greater probability the boy belongs to the Rojas family than to any other family,” chief federal prosecutor Mario Iguaran announced, citing an “absolute” match between the mitochondria DNA of the child and that of Miss Rojas’ mother and brother.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, promised two weeks ago to release the boy fathered by a rebel, along with Miss Rojas and former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez. Mr. Chavez assembled a team of international observers and invited American filmmaker Oliver Stone to participate, along with a press horde. He named the mission after the boy — “Operation Emmanuel.”

But the rebels never told Mr. Chavez where to pick them up, and blamed operations by Colombia’s U.S.-backed military when it called off the liberation of the three hostages on New Year’s Eve.

Mr. Uribe, meanwhile, said the rebels could not keep their promises because they did not have the boy, who had been living in a Bogota foster home under a different name, Juan David Gomez, for more than two years.

The mix-up is a major embarrassment for the FARC, possibly exposing its plan to release the three hostages as either an elaborate ruse or the result of internal disarray.

Mr. Iguaran said it would take another two weeks for a European laboratory to confirm the preliminary DNA analysis, after which child-welfare agents would determine whether the Rojas family should be granted temporary custody.

In 2005, a peasant custodian claiming to be the boy’s great uncle handed the boy over to child-welfare agents in San Jose de Guaviare, a FARC stronghold. He was then immediately transported to Bogota to receive treatment for a broken arm, malaria and jungle-born leishminiasis.

He’s since been living in a Bogota foster home, unbeknownst to the Rojas family, who may have seen him in a televised adoption advertisement.

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