Kidnap & Ransom Update – June 12, 2019
13-Jun-19

AMERICAS

1. (COLOMBIA, 10/06/19) Former Belgian hostage threatened on Facebook
Ruben Vanhees, a Belgian national who was kidnapped by a Colombian criminal group during his stay in Medellin in December 2018, says he is now being threatened with death on Facebook by his former abductors. The threats started after Vanhees discovered that one of his kidnappers was active on Facebook. He then decided to befriend him, aiming to alert the authorities. Furious to have appeared in the news and having international police warrants following the abduction of the Belgian, his captors are now trying to extract money by threating to reveal “compromising images” of him. The victim however affirms no such images exist. The Belgian was kidnapped after he left a nightclub with a girl he had met on Tinder. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

2. (FRANCE, 12/06/19) Polish nurse kidnapped in Germany found safe in French forest

A Polish woman who was reported missing on 3 June in Aspach, Germany, was found on 11June in the forest of Haguenau, Bas-Rhin region. Her two captors, also Polish nationals were arrested. One of the suspects include the victim’s former partner. The group was found inside a camper van. The victim was found injured. The motivation of the kidnapping is unknown but it is likely to be linked to a personal dispute. FULL ARTICLE (1)

MIDDLE EAST

3. (IRAN, 11/06/19) Freed Lebanese national arrives in Beirut from Iran

Lebanese IT expert Nizar Zakka, arrived in Beirut on 11 June, after almost four years in prison in Iran. Zakka was detained in 2015, after arriving in Iran to participate in a conference on women’s entrepreneurship. He was invited to the event by Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran’s then-vice president for women and family affairs. He was only convicted in 2016, charged with spying and sentenced to 10 years in prison with a fine amounting to about USD 4.2 million. Commenting on media reports that his release was a result of a deal, Zakka, who holds an American Green Card, said the initiative to release him was Lebanese. Zakka denied being an agent and rejected the spying charges made against him by Iran. However, he refused to engage in further details, including those of his abduction, or imprisonment. FULL ARTICLE

4. (KUWAIT, 11/06/19) Egyptian expatriate kidnapped at knifepoint

An Egyptian expatriate was abducted by six compatriots. He was kidnapped from the Kheitan area of Kuwait city, where he had been lured by one of the perpetrators who was his acquaintance. The man had allegedly offered to lend him 2,000 dinars (over USD 6,000) he needed to pay some loans. After meeting the man he was taken to a field, where two other suspects were waiting, armed with knives. The victim said the perpetrators assaulted him and forced him to sign four promissory notes. Subsequently, the men fled, abandoning the hostage at the field, injured. The victim reported the incident to the police an identified three of his attackers, who were later arrested. The three other perpetrators are still at large. FULL ARTICLE (1)

AFRICA

5. (MALI, 11/06/19) Kidnapped former Slovak secret service agent found safe

Ľuboš Kosík, a former agent of the Slovak secret service who was kidnapped in Mali in mid-January 2019 by men appearing to be members of the military, has been found alive. Journalists obtained documents showing local special police units plotted his abduction. While confirming he knows who were behind his illegal imprisonment, he has refused to go into details, including how he was released. His abduction may have been part of the plan to get Kosík back to Slovakia after the Malian government continued to deny his extradition, the daily wrote. Kosík said that while in captivity, he was interrogated a number of times with respect to the kidnapping of the son of the then Slovakian president in the 1990’s. FULL ARTICLE

6. (GHANA, 12/06/19) Kidnapped Canadians rescued

Lauren Tilley and Bailey Chitty, the two Canadian nationals who were abducted earlier this month, presumably for ransom, have been reported free. Ghana’s Information Ministry said the rescue operation was completed early on 12 June in the slums of Kumasi, Ashanti region. No other details were immediately available from the ministry. The two women, aged 19 and 20, had been abducted at the Kumasi Royal Golf Club on 4 June at about 8:30 p.m. local time. They were reportedly bundled into a car by four men as they stepped out of an Uber. Later reporting affirmed that a third young woman was also in the vehicle but was not abducted as she had not yet come out of the vehicle when her two comrades were taken. The assailants fired several warning shots to ward-off onlookers. Canadian NGO Youth Challenge International, with whom the victims were volunteering, said in a press release that medical reports affirmed both women were physically unhurt. However, the organisation said being unable to comment on the police actions that led to their rescue or the perpetrators of the abduction. According to media reports, a number of people have been arrested. Soon after, Ghanaian police later announced the arrest of Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, the chairman of the largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who is suspected of being linked to “various” kidnappings. Additionally, according to Ghanaian media, four suspected kidnappers, all Nigerian nationals, were arrested during the operation that achieved the release of the hostages. It was also reported that the Nigerians had received local support to carry out the kidnapping. The rescue of the Canadian victims followed reports, two day before, on the arrival of a Canadian special commission to deal with the case. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3) (4)

ASIA

7. (PHILIPPINES, 10/06/19) Philippine authorities warn on kidnapping by loan sharks

The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has warned that gamblers at the country’s casinos should be wary of people approaching them offering loans, as taking such offers could lead to kidnapping if unpaid. The warning followed a recent crackdown on a loan shark syndicate formed by five Chinese nationals and a Filipino-Chinese, who allegedly abducted three Chinese. The foreign victims were detained against their will in a hotel room in Parañaque City after they failed to repay their gambling loans. The victims were demanded to pay PHP7 million (over USD 134,000), originating from a loan of PHP1.5 million (almost USD 29,000). The security operation resulting in the rescue of the victim and arrest of their captors took place on 31 May. Three associates were later arrested after they tried to bribe an official to release the suspects. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)