EUROPE

Spain

16 September Spanish police revealed that a gang of 4 or 5 hardened criminals aged between 45 and 57 years had held an unnamed French millionaire businessman hostage for two months in Marbella during the summer. The criminals forced him to empty his bank account and convert his fortune into gold bars. In total, they extorted euros 1.3 million (USD1.46 million) from him. When they released him, they ordered him to continue sending euros 100,000 (USD112,400) a week against a threat they would kill him. The businessman’s bank reported unusual transactions to the police who started an investigation. The businessman was released by the gang on 13 July but the police waited until 5 September to arrest members of the gang. Police officers found 56 gold bars and euros 90,000 (USD101,600) in cash in a rented flat in Marbella where the victim had been held.

The Spanish police explained the story behind the kidnapping. The victim was kidnapped on 22 May, three days after the gang had held up a gun shop in Carmaux, south-western France. The gang, who had met in prison where they were serving long sentences for armed robbery and murder, kidnapped the “rich businessman” passing by his home to collect his credit card codes, computer equipment and clothes before taking him to Spain. They held the victim in chains in the basement of his second home in Plata d’Aro, north-eastern Spain, and forced him to telephone his family to tell them calmly “he was perfectly well but was going to take a few days holiday”. The gang then transferred the victim to a rented flat in Marbella. Two of the gang face charges of attempted murder of a police officer while a third was on the run after escaping from prison while serving a life sentence. The police had waited until 5 September to capture the gang in order to identify the whole team.

THE CARIBBEAN

Trinidad

15 September The Anti-Kidnapping Squad of the Police Service was called in to help to find Carolyn Katwaroo (43), owner and operator of a wholesale business importing vegetables, who had not been seen since leaving her home at Palmiste, near San Fernando, at around 8:00pm on 11 September. The following day, her white Mercedes Benz was found abandoned in Union Hall, San Fernando. She lives alone and does not have any children.

27 September While speaking to the media and being asked about the trend of missing women in the country, former National Security Minister Gary Griffith said that Security Minister Edmund Dillon was wrong in his analysis that “kidnappings have re-emerged”. He added that statistics show that there were 16 more kidnappings to date last year than this year. In addition, there have been three kidnappings for ransom this year compared with two last year.

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