Guide is key suspect in Philippines kidnapping

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Guide is key suspect in Philippines kidnapping

The police have pinpointed a tour guide as a prime suspect in plotting the kidnapping of five Korean tourists on Tuesday in Manila.

The South Chungcheong Provincial Police Agency yesterday said that it has arrested a 33-year-old tour guide surnamed Choi who was kidnapped along with the five tourists in the Philippines on Tuesday.

The police said that the tour guide is one of the prime suspects who plotted the kidnapping with 10 local Filipino police officers and a Korean man identified only by his first name, Tom.

The group was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday morning when they went shopping in downtown Manila before leaving the country that afternoon.

They were released after paying 24 million won ($21,295) ransom. The police said that the Filipino police tried to plant a plastic bag filled with an unidentified white substance, which the kidnappers insisted was drugs, in one of the tourists’ backpacks. The police assumed that Tom instrumented the money transfer and negotiation between the kidnappers and abductees.

The police also found another Korean suspect surnamed Lee and fingered him as a connection with the Filipino police officers.

The police said that Lee runs a Korean karaoke bar in Manila.

The South Chungcheong police said that it has questioned all abductees including Choi and secured testimonies from him that he was involved in the kidnapping yesterday morning.

The police see Choi as a core suspect who masterminded the entire kidnapping plan as he is an acquaintance of one of the abductees, but Choi denied the allegation and told the police that he only introduced the tourists to Tom and received 3 million won in cash in return.

The police said that the remaining 21 million won was divided three ways - 8 million won for Lee, 6 million won for Tom, and 5.7 million won for the Filipinos.

“We’ve requested that the Filipino police confirm the identities of Tom and Lee,” a spokesman at the police said.

“The Filipino police told us this morning that they have arrested all 10 police officers who were involved in the kidnapping and also secured the money from them. They promised to wire the money to the victims.”


By Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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