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Banana Company Executive Arrested in Kidnap Case

June 11, 1996

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ An American executive of Chiquita Brands has surrendered to authorities to face charges in the alleged kidnapping of a rival company’s director. Seven other Chiquita officials are sought.

Judge Linda Patricia Reyes said Tuesday that Richard Anderson, 42, had been turned over to a prison in the northern city of San Pedro Sula on Monday.

``There he will wait the result of the trial,″ she added.

Chiquita officials in Honduras and in Cincinnati had no immediate comment on the case.

Ernst Otto Stalinski, former director-general of the Irish produce company Fyffes PLC in Honduras, accused Anderson and seven other Chiquita officials of kidnapping him in a hotel room in San Pedro Sula in March 1990.

Charges of kidnapping, blackmail, coercion, housebreaking, extortion and attempted murder were filed against Anderson as well as Karl F. Koch, Robert F. Kistinger, Charles Morgan and Alexander Bakocsy of the United States and Eduardo Aragon, Manuel Rodriguez and Juan Jose Osorio of Honduras.

At the time, all were identified as executives of Chiquita Brands in Honduras.

Reyes said that she ordered the arrest of the eight men in September but none had been detained until this week.

The charges arise out of a commercial rivalry between Fyffes and Chiquita in 1990.

Chiquita is a traditional power in the Honduran banana trade, but Fyffes dominated local commerce for a period in 1990 after offering 90 independent producers higher prices than those offered by Chiquita.

In June of that year, some 200 armed men stole three Fyffes’ shipments, valued at $3.6 million, which were about to be exported to Europe.

Fyffes pulled out of the country, despite appeals from then-President Rafael Leonardo Callejas to stay.

Chiquita Brands, which has operated in Honduras since 1912, owns more than 1.9 million acres of banana, pineapple and fruit plantations in Honduras and employs about 4,000 workers.

In 1990, Chiquita exported 54 million boxes of bananas to the United States. That fell to 13 million last year, but the company has projected a rebound to 20 million this year.

Honduras is the world’s sixth-largest producer of bananas, following Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

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