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"Diplomat escapes kidnap attempt in Venezuela" or when reality speaks louder than spin

By Aleksander Boyd

London 08.09.05 | Andy Webb-Vidal in Caracas, reporting for the Financial Times, writes Diplomat escapes kidnap attempt in Venezuela.

"Germany's ambassador to Venezuela narrowly escaped a kidnap attempt when armed men snatched another European national mistaking him for the diplomat, it emerged on Wednesday.

Kidnappers seized a man believing him to be ambassador Hermann Erath from outside a restaurant in Caracas and drove the victim around the capital for several hours at high speed before releasing him.

Embassies in Caracas have issued security alerts to staff following the incident, which occurred about a week ago, according to a well-placed diplomat.

Abduction for ransom has risen sharply in Venezuela during the past five years, but the most recent incident suggests would-be kidnappers are becoming more bold in their choice of targets.

Security experts say increased security in Colombia, once the world's kidnap capital, has prompted guerrilla groups and other criminal organisations to extend their abduction activities across the border into Venezuela".

According to journalist Nelson Bocaranda, the snatched European national is Michael Lingenthal, acting director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation's office in Caracas. Bocaranda reports that Lingenthal was kidnapped by four heavily armed men when he was about to leave a restaurant called Members. His belongings, Toyota SUV included, were stolen. It appears that the Chavez regime wants to keep quiet about this issue, given the high profile of the persons involved. Furthermore, Bocaranda informs that "Germany's Embassy sent a communiqué to the Venezuela's Foreign Secretary expressing preoccupation vis-a-vis the modus operandi of the kidnappers; i.e. their outfits, professional weaponry and harsh interrogation method, which Lingenthal was subject to whilst in captivity".

As a side note Bocaranda's note about the matter is entitled "Secuestro Expreso", which is the title of a highly acclaimed recent movie -about the very lucrative and booming business of "express kidnapping"- that Venezuela's Vice President wants to have banned altogether, for, he alleges, "it has nothing to do with the country's current situation..."



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