The Words of the Ota Family

Paraguay Kidnap Suspects Named

April 18, 2007
The Japan Times

Seven face warrants in the abduction of trio for ransom Compiled from AP, Kyodo

ASUNCION -- Police said Tuesday they have issued arrest warrants for seven Paraguayans suspected of kidnapping a Japanese businessman and two other people missing since April 1.

National Police Commissioner Fidel Isasa did not say whether authorities knew the whereabouts of the kidnappers or the three hostages: executive Hirokazu Ota, police officer Rafael Ramos and his girlfriend, schoolteacher Nancy Gimenez.

"I can't provide any further details, but I have issued arrest orders for these seven Paraguayan individuals after gathering evidence of their involvement in the abduction," Isasa told reporters.

Ota, 62, an executive with the Victoria agro-industrial firm, is a member of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, which urged the kidnappers Tuesday to release all three in exchange for a previously negotiated ransom.

"We advise those who are holding pastor Ota, police officer Rafael Ramos and his girlfriend, Nancy Gimenez, that the amount agreed to last Sunday for their freedom is available," church official Jeronimo Amarilla said in a prepared statement.

He refused to give details, but he asked the captors to re-establish contact via a phone line that he said was used to negotiate for the release of Ota's secretary, Sawako Takayama, who turned up unharmed in Asuncion on April 10.

A senior member of the Unification Church said telephone contact had been lost between its negotiator and the captors.

Communications ceased Sunday night after Ota's captors apparently caught wind that the telephone conversations were being monitored by police, the member said.

The source said the church has prepared a ransom and called on police to refrain from investigating the case.

An independent Web site quoted unnamed police sources as saying the kidnappers were demanding $ 2 million and safe passage out of the country in exchange for the captives' release.

The Neike Web site, operated by local journalist Rodrigo Dure, said the kidnappers became aware police had developed leads to them.

The site reported that relatives and friends of Ota had collected only $ 100,000 and the captors had rejected that amount.

Fabrizio Ramos, one of eight brothers of the abducted officer, told reporters that his poor family had raised only about $ 2,000.

"We don't know what will happen to Rafael, but we hope they will free him safe and sound," he added.

The abduction occurred in a remote area near Caaguazu, 220 km east of Asuncion, on a highway known for sporadic hijackings of goods being trucked to the eastern trading city of Ciudad del Este.

Ota has been involved with the Unification Church since coming to Paraguay about 10 years ago.

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