10 May 2013

Cleveland kidnap accused in court

8:09 am on 10 May 2013

The man accused of imprisoning three women for about a decade in Cleveland, Ohio, made his first court appearance on Thursday.

Ariel Castro, 52, unemployed, faces four charges of kidnap and three of rape. He did not enter a plea.

Bail was set at $US8 million - $US2 million for each of the women and a child who was born in captivity.

The women were abducted at different times and held in a house in Seymour Avenue, until one of them, Amanda Berry, 27, escaped on Monday and raised the alarm.

The other women freed soon afterwards were Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32.

Handcuffed and dressed in blue overalls, the accused remained silent and looked down while lawyers spoke to the judge.

He is on suicide watch and will be kept in isolation.

Castro's home "was a prison to these three women and the child," Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brian Murphy told Judge Lauren Moore.

"Today the situation is turned on him," Mr Murphy said. "Mr. Castro stands before you a captive, in captivity, a prisoner."

Defence lawyer lawyer Kathleen DeMetz said afterwards her client would need $US800,000 cash to get out of jail.

"The man doesn't have any money," she said. "He clearly doesn't have that."

The accused's two brothers, Pedro, 54, and Onil, 50, were also arrested as suspects in the case but were not charged after investigators determined they had no knowledge of the abductions or captivity of the women.

They appeared in court on Thursday morning on unrelated outstanding misdemeanor charges and were released.