Tue, Oct 28, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chinese kidnappers release Taiwanese after ransom paid

CNA , TAIPEI

A China-based Taiwanese businessman who was kidnapped in Dongguan, Guangdong, last week was reportedly released Sunday after his family paid a ransom of US$1.68 million.

The businessman, whose name was withheld, was reportedly abducted at midnight last Wednesday when he was driving home with a friend after a KTV party in Dongguan.

Two days later, the Dongguan-based kidnappers called the man's wife in Taichung, telling her to pay the ransom -- one of the highest in recent years related to cross-strait kidnappings -- at a roadside point along the Sun Yat-sen Freeway at midnight of the same day.

The ransom was paid in accordance with the instructions, but because the wife did not hear from him after paying the ransom, she made an emergency call to a Taichung City councilman for help at around noon Saturday.

The wife finally received a call from her husband on Sunday morning telling her that he had been released by his kidnappers.

As of Sunday, four of the businessman's alleged abductors had been arrested by Dongguan public security authorities, according to Criminal Investigation Bureau officials, who have been in contact with their Dongguan counterparts for information on the case.

Chinese police are trying to determine the identity of the four abductors, their motives and whether the kidnapping ring's mastermind is in Taiwan, the bureau said.

According to the bureau officials, the man's wife tried to haggle the ransom down to about US$1 million, telling the kidnappers that the amount of US dollars in cash that they were asking for was difficult to obtain in a single day. However, the kidnappers insisted on the original ransom amount.

CIB officials said they believe that the kidnapping ring's mastermind, who they claim is well aware of the financial status of the man's family, is in Taiwan.

The businessman was reportedly scheduled to return home yesterday, according to bureau authorities and Taichung City police, who are continuing their investigations into the case.

In related news, 63 Taiwanese businessmen and family members have been killed in China since 1991, according to statistics released yesterday by the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

SEF officials said that 115 people from Taiwan have also been reported missing in China over the same period.

Additionally, 50 Taiwanese have either been kidnapped or illegally detained, while 78 others have been robbed, injured or blackmailed, the officials said.

In the first nine months of this year, six Taiwanese have been killed on the mainland, according to the SEF tallies.

The SEF is a quasi-official body authorized to handle exchanges with China in lieu of diplomatic ties.

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