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Germany

Pensioners' kidnapping of financial advisor was a 'holiday invitation'

Four wealthy German pensioners, infuriated when their investments disappeared last year during the recession, are on trial in Bavaria for allegedly kidnapping and holding hostage their asset manager.

Statue of Justicia

The accused pensioners were angry at losing money

Four German pensioners went on trial Monday for allegedly kidnapping their financial advisor and imprisoning him in a cellar.

The main defendant told the court in the Bavarian town of Traunstein that he and the other four involved in the case had not kidnapped the manager but invited him for what he called "a holiday in Bavaria."

The 74-year old said the group was certain it was the asset manager's fault that about 2.5 million euros (3.5 million dollars) of their money had been lost, and they wanted to persuade him to reimburse them.

He went on to tell the court how he and one of the other defendants travelled from their native Bavaria to the investment advisor's home in Speyer in June 2009. They seized the manager, he said, bound and gagged him, locked him in a box, put it in the trunk of their car and drove him south to a town near Chiemsee, a resort lake in the south-east of Germany.

Chiemsee lake

Chiemsee proved a less than idyllic holiday destination for the asset manager

When the victim tried to escape at a highway rest stop, the pair are alleged to have punched him.

Pensioners' revenge

In Bavaria, the retirees, all between 60 and 79 years of age, locked the manager in the basement of the main defendant's house, in what he told the court was an "emergency guest room".

The group allegedly interrogated the manager and forced him to sign documents committing to repay them the money they had lost in the financial crisis. Reportedly, the frightened manager wrote "Sell 100 Call Pol.ICE!" on a bank transfer, which caused a bank employee to alarm the police. Three days after he was kidnapped, an armed police squad freed the hostage.

The trial of one of the male defendants has been suspended because he is ill, but a verdict in the case of the other four is expected on March 23.

db/AFP/dpa
Editor: Rob Turner

DW.DE