The Words of the Ota Family

Warrants Issued In Paraguay-Japan Kidnapping

April 18, 2007

ASUNCION: Paraguay prosecutors have ordered seven arrests in the ongoing kidnapping of a Japanese businessman and pastor, but his church told the government to back off and let them negotiate his freedom.

"We ask government prosecutors and the police to get off the case in every sense of the term so that we can reach a quick and successful conclusion," the Federation of Families for World Peace and Unity, an organization related to the Unification Church led by Sun Myung Moon, said in a statement.

Japanese businessman and Unification Church pastor Hirokazu Ota was kidnapped April 1 along with his secretary Sawako Yamaguchi, and Paraguayan policeman Rafael Ramos and teacher Nancy Gimenez.

Yamaguchi was released last week, but the terms of her freedom have not been made public.

Paraguayan prosecutors ordered the arrest of seven people suspected of links to the kidnapping and at the same time a lawmaker said negotiations with the kidnappers may be close to concluding.

"The negotiations are very advanced," Enrique Gonzalez Quintana, president of Congress, said after meeting with government negotiators. He declined to provide any details.

The church organization said in its statement that its negotiations had reached an agreement on a ransom for the kidnap victims since last Sunday and accused the government of tapping its negotiator's phone line.

The seven suspects named by the prosecutors' office are all Paraguayan. It was not clear what their role is suspected of being.

The kidnap victims were grabbed on a highway in Caaguazu department, some 185km east of Asuncion.

Ota, who runs a property management company, has lived in Paraguay for 10 years.

National Police Commander Fidel Isasa said that the police were also beefing up search patrols by adding 200 officers.

"We are going to continue with road blocks on highways and local roads," Isasa told reporters.

Isasa denied local media reports that one of the suspects was a former police officer.

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