After a ransom of EGP150,000 was paid, the four Copts—among them a child—who were kidnapped on 3 October in Manfalout, Assiut, some 350km south of Cairo, were safely released last night 4 October.
The four Copts were the brothers Emad and Ramy Lamei who are construction workers and who had come to Manfalout from Cairo for a job they were assigned to do, and their relative Marzouq Ashamallah from Assiut who offered them a ride to Zarayeb al-Qoussiya where the job was. Ashamallah’s nine-year-old Amir joined them for the ride. Before reaching their destination, armed men blocked the road, kidnapped them at gunpoint, and took the car.
On the same day, the Copts’ family in Manfalout received a phone call placed on one of the kidnapped Copts’ mobile phones, asking for a EGP500,000-ransom. The kidnapper said that should the police intervene, the kidnapped men and boy would be killed. The family thus refrained from filing a police report, but informally sought the advice of Assiut Security Deputy Chief who proposed paying the ransom in order to ensure the safety of the kidnapped Copts; and that once the kidnappers were freed the culprits would be caught and the money returned to those who paid it. Local rights figures confirmed the opinion.
Negotiations between the family and the kidnappers brought down the ransom sum to EGP150,000.
A first attempt to hand the money to the kidnappers failed when they discovered the police were close by and shot at them. A second attempt, however, succeeded. The kidnappers asked to be paid at a site near Deir Muwwas in Minya up north, and used Ashamallah’s car to get there. This time there was no police intervention, and the four Copts were set free.
Once he was freed, Emad Lamei gave details of the kidnap incident. “We were caught and blindfolded and taken to a place we don’t know on the mountain east of Assiut.” The eastern Assiut mountain is a desolate place and is notorious for the outlaws that take refuge in its caves where they can easily hide from the police. Mr Lamei says that they were chained and forced to put their faces on the ground. They were all beaten, he said, except the child.
The police questioned the Copts for details of the kidnappers, but none has yet been caught.
5 October 2016