Friday, June 10, 2005

Italians Pressured Afghans to Free Criminal to Secure Aid Worker's Release

Yet again, the Italians have made sure that kidnapping pays in order to obtain the release of Italian CARE worker Clementina Cantoni, abducted in Kabul on May 16. The Italians forced the Afghan government to release the mother of Cantoni's kidnapper, who was being held for complicity in previous abductions. From Agence France Presse
Her main hostage-taker, identified as Timur Shah, reportedly demanded the release of his mother, held prisoner on charges that she had helped her son in a previous kidnapping, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera reported.

The Italian government had to convince reluctant Afghan authorities to release the woman, La Repubblica said. She was finally freed Wednesday, clinching the deal with the kidnappers, the reports said.

A local businessman then brought Shah's mother to an apartment in the Afghan capital and Cantoni was handed over in exchange, Corriere reported.

Interior Minister Ali Ahmed Jalali told reporters at a hastily arranged late-night press conference Thursday that the "policy of the Afghan government is not to deal with the hostage-takers. We did not pay any ransom."

However a high-ranking Afghan government official speaking on condition of anonymity said there had been a deal with the kidnapper.
Further proof, if any were needed after the shameful Giuliana Sgrena incident, that the Italians are worse than useless as allies and that Italian nationals should be banned from war zones.