Pirate Kidnappers Free Swiss Tourist
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (AP) _ A Swiss tourist was freed Friday by pirates who abducted him and a woman companion while they were picnicking nearly three months ago and demanded $100,000 ransom.
Hans Kunzli, 45, was wearing a T-shirt and cutoff trousers when he arrived in Zamboanga City. He had a scratch on his thigh and seemed dazed, but a physician who examined him pronounced Kunzli ″physically well.″
He was turned over to Philippine civil and military authorities on nearby Sacol Island, to which he was brought by his kidnappers and a local Moslem official who reportedly helped negotiate the release.
Men led by pirate chief Salih Sappari captured Kunzli and his Filipino woman companion July 19 on Santa Cruz, a resort island about a mile off Zamboanga. She was released later with instructions to deliver the ransom demand.
Col. Urbano Calo, a physician, examined the Swiss businessman at the Zamboanga regional military headquarters and said he was well, ″but a little exhausted.″ He recommended Kunzli spend at least one day in the hospital.
″I am in a state of shock,″ Kunzli said in German through an interpreter during a brief news conference. ″I couldn’t sleep for two months.″
He said Sappari’s pirates treated him ″very badly″ and subjected him to sexual abuse during the final five days of his captivity.
Philippine authorities said no ransom was paid for Kunzli, who owns a house-painting business near Zurich, but refused to say what convinced the kidnappers to release him.
In previous abductions, authorities have acknowledged payment of ″reimbursements″ for ″expenses″ incurred by kidnappers.
Military doctors, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Sappari’s wife and infant daughter were taken to the army hospital along with Kunzli and admitted for treatment of respiratory ailments and malnutrition.
They said they did not know whether treatment of members of the pirate’s family was part of a deal for Kunzli’s release.
Weeks of negotiations had been conducted by local Moslem officials, former Moslem separatist rebels and others.
Military sources said the kidnappers turned Kunzli over to Moslem official Faisal Salih last Monday on Jolo Island, about 80 miles southwest of here, but misunderstandings delayed his transfer to military authorities.
Col. Eduardo Cabanlig, commander of the Second Marine Brigade, said Salih was afraid to take Kunzli from the pirate hideout because Philippine troops had surrounded the area, and another delay was caused by confusion over the release site.
Cabanlig said he thought the transfer would be made on Santa Cruz Island, where Kunzli was kidnapped, and waited there all day Thursday.
Officials finally flew to Jolo on Friday to get things straight, he said, and Kunzli was released on Sacol Island, six miles northeast of Zamboanga. The colonel said Sappari and 50 armed men accompanied Kunzli and the Moslem intermediary.