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U.S. Businessmen Describe Abduction

April 27, 2001 GMT

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Three U.S. businessmen abducted by Nigerians and held hostage in a Nairobi house testified Friday about how their captors tormented them in attempts to extort $5.2 million in ransom.

The Rev. William Danny Marrow, 60, of Norfolk, Va., wept as he told the court how he was stripped naked and his hand and legs were chained behind his back. He was held for 87 days before he was rescued Tuesday by police and FBI agents attached to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

Marrow said his private parts and legs were burned with cigarettes and candles to force him to raise the ransom.

``I was fed on bread and water and sometimes Coca-Cola,″ he said.

During his first day of captivity, he was not allowed access to a bathroom, he said.

Marrow identified his captor as Augustine Azubuike Nwanga, who the Americans said was ``the commander and instructor during their captivity.″

Nwanga, who has pleaded innocent to three charges of kidnapping, was arrested when police raided the house Tuesday. A trial date has not been set, but kidnapping carries the death penalty in Kenya. Two other suspects remain at large.

Chief magistrate Boaz Aloa allowed the testimony from Marrow and the other two Americans _ Jurgen Robert Ahlmann, 58, of Escondido, Calif., and James Edward Harrel, 67, of San Diego _ so they could return home Friday night.

Marrow said he has an import and export company which deals with agriculture, minerals, petroleum and police vehicles and helicopters.

Nwanga contacted Marrow in September and told him of about a $9.5 million diamond investment in Kenya. After corresponding with Nwanga by e-mail, Marrow decided to visit Kenya. He arrived Jan. 27 and was met at the airport by Nwanga and a woman.

He was taken to a house where he met a man called Ahmed Suleiman, who claimed to have the diamonds. At the house, Suleiman told Marrow that he was the head of a gang of kidnappers in East Africa and that Marrow’s freedom would cost $5 million.

Marrow said he was then gagged with masking tape. Two men stood guard over him day and night in a dark room. He said during his captivity he was forced to contact his family, friends and business associates to raise money, with Nwanga dictating what he should say.

Ahlmann and Harrel, who are business partners, said they came to Kenya to meet Nwanga and discuss shipping fish to Europe.

Nwanga allegedly sent them plane tickets, and when they arrived April 14 they were taken to the house where Marrow was being held. The suspects demanded $200,000 for their release, they said.