- In a news conference, 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
Luis Manuel Diaz, father of Liverpool striker Luis Diaz, recounted how he was made to walk “too much” with little sleep in the nearly two weeks he was held hostage in a mountainous area of Colombia by members of the ELN guerrilla group.
Diaz, finally liberated Thursday after calls from around the world for his freedom, told reporters at his home in the country’s north he went through a “very difficult” time, surviving “almost 12 days without sleep.”
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”.
I Was Not Treated Violently
Diaz’s wife Cilenis Marulanda, held her husband’s back lovingly as he broke down in tears mid-statement.
Behind the pair hung a string of golden balloons spelling out “Welcome Mane,” his nickname, in Spanish.
He told reporters he was not maltreated by his captors.
“I had to walk too much, up and down many mountains, trying to stay safe so that… I could return home,” said the 56-year-old, who is no stranger to the mountainous region he has explored since a child.
But “this was a different story,” he said “I would not want anyone to be in that mountain in the situation I was in.”
The Couples Kidnapping
Footballer Diaz’s parents were abducted by armed men on motorcycles at a gas station in Barrancas, a town near the Venezuelan border.
Marulanda was rescued hours later and a massive search operation by ground and air was launched for her husband, with more than 250 soldiers involved.
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.