Police tell of ransom cash drop

First published in United Kingdom news

A team of British police officers travelled to Paris to oversee payment of the ransom for a five-year-old from Oldham held hostage in Pakistan, a court heard.

British law enforcement officers involved in the operation to recover Sahil Saeed gave evidence at the trial in Tarragona, north east Spain, of Muhammad Zahid Saleem, Gianina Monica Neruja and Muhammad Sageiz.

The two Pakistani men and Romanian woman deny charges of kidnap of a minor, conspiracy, robbery in conjunction with a crime of trespassing and eight charges of unlawful arrest in relation to the March 2010 kidnapping.

At the trial, kidnap experts Rob Ormsby of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and Geoff Wessell of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) told how British officers went to France to assist Sahil's uncle as he delivered £110,000 to his nephew's kidnappers.

Sahil was snatched by four masked men armed with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades at his grandmother's house in Jhelum in Pakistan's Punjab region while on holiday with his father.

An international police operation was launched and the boy was released in Pakistan after the ransom raised by his family was allegedly collected by married couple Saleem and Neruja in Paris.

Rob Ormsby, the head of SOCA's anti-kidnap and extortion unit, explained that he and a team of specialist officers from SOCA and GMP had taken the money to France with Sahil's uncle Tauseer Ahmed.

The kidnappers originally told Sahil's father to fly to Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris with the ransom, but due to visa problems it was decided his brother-in-law Mr Ahmed should go instead.

After listening in to telephone instructions allegedly given to him by Saleem and Neruja, the team watched over Sahil's uncle as he dropped off two suitcases containing £105,000 and 5,000 euros in a central Paris park.

French police, who were in overall command of the operation, also monitored the situation from a helicopter. The trial was adjourned to Tuesday.

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