Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Dutch hostages released for ransom

Dutch hostages released for ransom

By Nasser Arrabyee/13/04/2009

The kidnappers of the two Dutch hostages said they released the couple on Monday to the local tribal mediation which will hand them to the government Tuesday April 14th.

"We handed the two Dutch hostages to the tribal mediation after agreement on our compensation," Chief kidnapper, Ali Nasser Seraj told Gulf News over phone from the mountainous area of Bani Thabyan where the two hostages were held for two weeks.

The couple will go to Sana'a on Tuesday, he said.

The tribal mediators paid the kidnappers 10 million YR ($US 50 million) and pledged to pay 55 million YR ($US 275,000) later, sources at the tribal mediation said.

The kidnappers had ruled tribally that the security forces that fired at them last year should pay 80 million YR, ($US 400,000 ), but they discounted it to 65 million YR ($US 325,000) in response to the demands of the mediation, the sources said.

Earlier in the day, the governor of Sana'a province, Noman Dowaid, expected that the two hostages will be released during the upcoming 24 hours.

The official said, "The security forces are tightening the noose on the kidnappers and their families and relatives."

"The government will not pay ransom and will not yield to the demands of the kidnappers," He added in a state-run TV interview.

The official's statements came after a tribal mediation between the kidnappers and the government reached a deadlock.

"The mediation did not achieve any success, but the kidnappers may surrender because of the blockade on them. They now demand only a presidential pardon to protect them from trials," said Abdul Rahman Al Marwani, a tribal sheikh who participated in the tribal mediation.

"The State would strike with an iron fist if the hostages were not released," said Al Marwani who met the hostages and the kidnappers in their hideout in the mountainous area of Bani Thabyan, about 90 km east of the capital.

Al Marwani, who runs Dar Al Salam, an organization for combating violence and kidnappings, said that the hostages were in a good health and being treated well when he met them last week.

He said kidnappers asked them to give as a guarantee four cars, and a tribal arbitration document signed by the minister of interior or chief of the central security. And also a written pledge from the tribal mediators to implement the decisions of the tribal arbitration, in addition to a presidential pardon that protects them from trials.

The chief kidnapper said he will no longer cooperate with any mediation that has not guarantees to meet his demands.

"The tribal mediation was not able to meet or understand our demands," said Ali Nasser Seraj said over phone from his hideout.

"We want compensation, and pardon," the kidnapper said.

The Dutch couple, Jan Hoogendoorn, 54, and Heleen Janszen, 49, were taken hostage from the outskirt of the capital Sana'a, on 31 March.

At the beginning, the tribesmen demanded compensation from the Yemeni government over an incident in which a convoy headed by the tribal chief came under fire from a security checkpoint last year.

This incident resulted in the wounding of a number of members from the chief's relatives.

The kidnappers also demanded that the security men and their boss at the checkpoint be held accountable for the shooting incident.

The Ministry of interior said it had arrested about 16 men from Bani Thabyan over kidnappings charges including six men who were involved in the kidnapping of the Dutch couple.

The main kidnappers of the Dutch couple were identified as Ali Nasser Taleb Seraj, Amer Ahmed Taleb Seraj, Ali Nasser Thela, and Ali Mohammed Al Zemar.

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