A British man who claimed he was held hostage and tortured by a gang in Italy has been accused by his alleged captors of staging the kidnapping to pay off his debts.
Londoner Patrick Sam Kourosh Demilecamps, 25, claims he was on holiday in Italy when he was kidnapped and held captive for eight days by the gang – three men and a woman – to extract €7,000 (£5,900) from his wealthy family.
Police were able to trace him to an apartment in Monte San Giusto, a small town in the central Marche region, and arrested four people – Rubens Beliga Gnana, 18, Ahmed Rajraji, 21, Dona Conte, 22, and Aurora Carpani, 20 – on charges of kidnapping for the purpose of extortion.
But according to reports in the Italian media, one of the suspects told a judge on Friday that the kidnap was staged in order for Demilecamps to get the €7,000 from his parents to pay off a debt he owed to the group.
A British man who claimed he was held hostage in an apartment in Monte San Giusto (pictured) and tortured by a gang in Italy has been accused by his alleged captors of concocting a fake kidnapping
‘It wasn’t a real kidnapping but a fiction to convince the Englishman’s family to send him 7,000 euros to pay off a debt,’ Rubens Beliga Gnana said at the Macerata magistrates court La Stampa, an Italian news outlet, reported.
According to The Daily Beast, the alleged kidnapper said that Demilecamps owed them the money for an undisclosed ‘loan’, and that he was the one who devised a plan to get his father to send the cash to him.
He even asked them to take photographs of him in handcuffs to gain sympathy from his father, Mr Gnana claimed.
The judge has freed all suspects from jail and placed them under house arrest, requiring all but Carpani – the woman in the group – to wear an electronic tag.
Questions have been raised over the value of the ransom demanded by the alleged kidnappers, with the motive still shrouded in mystery.
Officers are said to be ‘curious’ about why the ransom was so low.
Demilecamps, who is yet to make an official statement to the press, claims was held handcuffed and barefoot in the flat for eight days, with his captors demanding a €7,000 ransom for his release, police said after the rescue on Wednesday.
He was apparently fed only scraps by his alleged captors, who are said to have allowed the Briton to call his wealthy unnamed parents, asking for the money.
By using some sort of code word, Demilecamps was able to alert them to his predicament. In turn, his parents contacted the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), who alerted Italian authorities, who authorised an armed raid to rescue him.
Italian police have arrested four people – Rubens Beliga Gnana, 18, Ahmed Rajraji, 21, Dona Conte (pictured left), 22, and Aurora Carpani (pictured right), 20 – on charges of kidnapping for the purpose of extortion
Colonel Nicola Candido, who was involved in the rescue, said: ‘His family, who are fairly wealthy, received a message from him and contacted the British police and the National Crime Agency, who in turn contacted the carabinieri [Italian police].
‘We checked out the case and then planned the rescue raid.’
Police found the man in a darkened room with furniture pushed up against the wall, with Italian police saying he was ‘psychologically tested’ by the experience.
‘We acted following information from British counterparts and our information is that he is from an extremely wealthy family,’ an Italian police source told The Sun.
‘However there are certain aspects which are still being looked at such as the small amount of ransom demanded.
‘The four people held are three men and a woman and they will be questioned by a local prosecutor.’
Ahmed Rajraji, one of the four people that have been arrested in Italy over the incident. All four have since been released, with the three men being ordered to wear an electronic tag
The Londoner has since told police about his alleged ordeal, claiming that the suspects chained him to a radiator and tortured him with a taser and by holding him underwater.
He said that his alleged kidnappers were known to him before he was abducted, and that they had seen him spending his money.
‘I had been with my captors several days prior to being kidnapped and they had seen me spending lavishly,’ Demilecamps, of Bordon, Hants, told police.
‘I was tasered, held underwater in the bath and beaten during the time I was held in the flat. I was also subdued with drugs and given very little food.’
Demilecamps told officials that he had been taking an extended holiday in Italy since early June after travelling there to escape the UK after the Covid-19 lockdown.
In the months leading up to the alleged kidnapping, he visited a number of cities in the country including Naples, Sorrento, Florence and Bologna, before arriving in Macerata, according to The Guardian.
At the time of him being captured, he had been with a friend who was able to escape and inform relatives in Britain of the kidnapping.
Sean Kelly, Operations Manager for the NCA’s Anti Kidnap and Extortion Unit, said: ‘We have been working closely with the Italian authorities since the kidnap of a British man was reported.
‘NCA officers in Italy and specialists from AKEU, working together with UK policing, have been providing close support to the Carabinieri Police as part of its ongoing investigation.
‘We are pleased that this incident has been resolved successfully.’
The commander of the carabinieri unit involved in the operation, Colonel Francesco D’Ecclesiis, said on Friday: ‘Within 36 hours, we had located the apartment in which he was being held prisoner.
‘The raid took place at 14.45 on Wednesday. We surrounded the apartment block, arrested the captors, and released the hostage.’
The mayor of Monte San Giusto said the town of 8,000 people was ‘dumbfounded’ upon hearing the news of the alleged kidnapping.
‘We only ever hear about kidnappings on the TV,’ mayor Andrea Gentili told the Italian press. ‘We are a small town and so such an event for us is even more striking. We are very sorry to end up under the spotlight for a story like this.’