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Court Sentences 58 in Kidnaping of Ecuador's President

July 22, 1987|Associated Press

QUITO, Ecuador — A military court on Tuesday handed prison sentences to 58 air force commandos who took part in the 11-hour kidnaping of President Leon Febres Cordero last January. Thirty-six others were acquitted.

Febres Cordero was released unharmed after he signed a pardon for retired air force Gen. Frank Vargas Pazzos, the commandos' former leader. Two presidential bodyguards were killed in the Jan. 16 abduction.

The court-martial, presided over by five air force colonels, gave 17 of the commandos the maximum 16-year term.

Forty-one others were given sentences ranging from six months to eight years.

The kidnaping took place during a ceremony at an air base in Guayaquil, about 170 miles southeast of Quito.

In a written statement when the trial opened on March 5, Febres Cordero testified that he was kicked, beaten and threatened with death by his captors.

The president and others taken hostage with him were released after 11 hours. He said he signed the pardon for Vargas Pazzos to protect the lives of the other captives.

The commandos sealed themselves off at the air base after releasing the hostages. They surrendered to the Ecuadorean army a few days later without bloodshed.

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