x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

'Chinese mafia' gang held over kidnapping

A businessman was snatched from home, tied to a bed, blindfolded, tortured with a stun gun and threatened with execution.

DUBAI // A man has been rescued after being kidnapped by a gang of Chinese "mafia", who tortured and threatened him with execution unless a Dh100 million ransom was paid. Police said yesterday the 24-year-old Chinese man was snatched from outside his home in International City on Nov 16.

He was tortured with a stun gun by the gang, who told his girlfriend he would be killed if she did not pay. However, police two days later stormed a flat in Ajman, rescued the hostage and arrested eight men and a woman. A spokesman for Dubai Police CID described the gang as part of a "Chinese mafia", whose leader was wanted in China for crimes including torture, kidnap and murder. The victim's ordeal began when he was attacked and dragged from the entrance to the building where he shared a flat with his girlfriend. The gang had been watching and following the man since earlier that day when he had paid a large amount of money into a bank.

Col Khalil Ibrahim al Mansouri, the deputy chief of Dubai CID, said the man was interested in moving his money to the country and was in Dubai. "He came here with the interest to start a business in Dragon Mart and to invest his money in the country," he said. The man, who had left the toy shop at the mall where he works, was on his way home to prepare supper for himself and his girlfriend while she stayed behind in the store.

An hour later, the woman identified as LH received a call from the kidnappers who demanded that she deliver Dh100 million (US$27m) from his wealthy family or they would kill her boyfriend. "She was threatened and told that if she didn't come up with the money, which she negotiated down to Dh20 million, they would kill him," Col Mansouri said. "They also made her hear his voice so that they could make sure she knew they got him."

A team of 100 police officers was assembled to find the missing man. Investigations quickly led the police to a flat in Ajman, which was placed under surveillance. Another spot, an Arab-style home in Fujairah, was also suspected to be involved. "An investigation was carried out which led us to a suspicious flat in Ajman. The building was an area which had a big Chinese population," Col Mansouri said.

Police raided the two locations at the same time at 4am on Nov 18. The man was found in a weak condition in the flat in Ajman with bruises on the left and right side of his abdomen where he had been tortured with the stun gun. He later told police his captors fed him only one meal a day. "His arms and legs were tied up to a bed and he was blindfolded," Col Mansouri said. The gang members "put up a fight using instruments including the electric gun" but were overpowered by police officers, he added. The eight people were detained in Ajman while a 36-year-old man, purported to be the gang leader, was arrested in Fujairah.

Some members of the gang are residents, while others are on visit visas. Police believe the ringleader entered the country using a fake passport. They were all charged with kidnapping, resisting and attacking police and possession of an illegal weapon. The case has been referred to the public prosecution. The Chinese Embassy in Dubai said it was aware of the case but police had not provided further details.

Luo Ze Jun, China's political attaché to the UAE, said: "This kind of case is very rare. We haven't seen anything like this in the last two years." @Email:rabubaker@thenational.ae