ROME—When police found Patrick Sam Kourosh Demilecamps—a wealthy Briton who had been holidaying in Italy for months—tied barefoot to a radiator in an apartment in central Italy, they weren’t quite sure what to think. Police had been tipped off by Demilecamps’ father, who said he received a cryptic message from his son that he had been taken for ransom. The kidnappers wanted €7,000 (roughly $8,000), a rather paltry sum for the son of a multi-millionaire.
Based on Demilcamps’ message to his dad—in which he asked his father not to notify authorities but rather to send him the cash ransom—the father was able to report to Italian authorities where to find the kidnapped Brit. When they busted into an apartment near the town of Macerata, they found Demilecamps barefoot and tied to a radiator in a room with darkened windows.
They were able to quickly find the perpetrators based on neighbors’ testimony, and hauled Rubens Beliga Gnaga, 18, of Italy; Dona Conte, 22 , from Guinea, and Ahmed Rajraji, 21, from Morocco; and his girlfriend Aida Carpani, 20, from Montenegro in on kidnapping for the purpose of extortion charges.
But Gnaga told the judge that it was actually Demilecamps who devised the plan to squeeze thousands out of his dad to pay the foursome for a mysterious loan he owed them. “It wasn’t a real kidnapping but a sham to convince the Englishman’s family to send him 7,000 euros to make up a debt,” Gnaga told the court, according to police at a press conference on Friday.
The judge placed the four suspects on house arrest, and made all but Carpani wear an electronic bracelet until the case can be investigated further.
Massimiliano Mengasini, with the Italian Carabinieri police, told reporters they were investigating the alleged crime, including following a money trail to try to understand if the kidnappers acted on their own or worked with their victim to bilk the Briton’s father for cash. A friend who was supposedly with Demilecamps when he was kidnapped corroborated the abduction story to police in the U.K. Both British men had been in Italy since June after they escaped the U.K.’s harsh COVID-19 lockdown.
Italian police say they spent 36 hours trying to hone in on where Demilecamps was being held after being alerted by the British authorities, who had been tipped off by the kidnapped man’s father. They found him in the village of Monte San Giusto in the municipality of Macerata.
Demilecamps, who is still in Italy, has not been arrested. Gnaga told the judge that their victim devised the whole idea and even insisted he be photographed with handcuffs to make his parents cough up the cash.
Police say that Demilecamps denies being part of a hoax, instead insisting he was kept for eight days without food and suffered “various humiliations” of unknown origin. Police say he was under psychological distress when they found him.