EUROPE

France

24 October Mme Jacqueline Veyrach (76), owner and President of the Grand Hotel in Cannes, was kidnapped after walking out of a pharmacy in Nice. At around lunchtime, as the victim was walking to her car after leaving a pharmacy close to her home, she was seized by masked men, blindfolded and bundled into a waiting white van. A pharmacy employee who witnessed the abduction called the police who believe the kidnapping is the work of an “organised gang”. Local media reports said there were at least three kidnappers in the vehicle. Two wearing masks got out and grabbed the victim before forcing her into the van. In December 2013, she had been the target of a previous attempt to kidnap her from outside her garage. On 26 October, the victim was freed unharmed and in good health after being found by a resident of west Nice. The resident had gone to investigate a parked white van after noticing the number plate was a bit loose exposing another number plate underneath. He smashed a window, opened the door and saw the victim with her wrists and ankles bound, eyes and mouth sealed with tape and tied to the floor. On 28 October, a police source confirmed that nine suspects had been arrested, among them the former manager of the Michelin starred La Reserve, a gourmet restaurant in Nice owned by the victim, a one-time paparazzo named “Tintin” and a former British secret serviceman who, until his arrest, was reportedly sleeping rough in Nice The three were later charged. “Tintin” is said to have placed tracking devices under the victim’s car so he could trace her movement using his mobile phone. According to one newspaper report, the kidnap was allegedly sparked by revenge after the restaurateur who ran La Reserve blamed the victim for forcing him to close. It was reported the kidnappers had contacted the victim’s family and demanded an undisclosed ransom.

Spain

24 October Raul Fernandez Vicente, jefe de Grupo de Investigacion de Secuestro y Extorsiones de la Policia Nacional de Espana, reported that to September 2016, 900 “virtual kidnappings” including “secuestro virtual a la Mexicana” had been recorded in the country. He explained that “secuestro virtual a la Mexicana” is when a hotel guest receives a call from an unknown person who frightens the guest into changing hotel before being able to inform their family. The extortionist then calls the guest’s family to demand a ransom. Because the guest has moved hotel without notifying anyone, the family are unable to make contact..

United Kingdom

2 October The mother of Royal Air Force (RAF) serviceman, Corrie McKeague (23), revealed that the police had not ruled out the possibility that he had been kidnapped. The serviceman is based at RAF Honington, Suffolk, and was last seen early in the morning of 24 September after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The town is about 30 miles from RAF Marham where two men of Middle Eastern appearance tried to kidnap an RAF serviceman in July while he was jogging near the Air Base.

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