23 Sep 2002

Pirates in French Polynesia may have captured basketball star

3:40 pm on 23 September 2002

Investigators in French Polynesia looking into the disappearance of a former basketball star, his girlfriend and and the French captain of the yacht they were on, are now checking leads that they might have been kidnapped.

The three are former US professional basketball player, Bison Dele, his girlfriend Serena Karlan, and Frenchman Bertrand Saldo, who have been missing since early July, after stopping over in Tahiti while sailing to Hawaii.

The chief suspect in the case is Dele's older brother, Kevin Williams, who is in hospital in a coma in San Diego under police guard.

But a report from police in Phoenix in Arizona indicates that so-called "polynesian pirates" had taken the three and demanded a ransom.

The report obtained by the French news agency, AFP, says the family of Serena Karlan had received information in France and French Polynesia which supported the theory.