24 Mar 2010

Pensioners guilty of kidnapping financial adviser

9:03 am on 24 March 2010

Four German pensioners have been found guilty of kidnapping the financial adviser they blamed for property investments in the United States that went awry.

The court found that the four, aged 61 to 80, abducted James Amburn and tried to force him to refund 2.5 million euros in lost investments.

They took him from his home in western Germany and drove him 450km to southern Bavaria. He was freed after hiding a message to call police in a fax to his Swiss bank, the BBC reports.

The defendants had argued that they had invited Mr Amburn for a short holiday in upper Bavaria.

But the judge in Traunstein ruled that it was a "spectacular case of self-justice" and that in Germany, people could not take the law into their own hands.

They were found guilty of offences ranging from kidnapping to grievous bodily harm.

The ringleader of the group, retired architect Roland Kaspar, 74, was sentenced to six years in prison. His accomplice, a 61-year-old businessman, was sentenced to four years. Two women, one of them Kaspar's 80-year-old wife, received suspended sentences.

Another suspect, aged 67, is to be tried later due to health problems.

The BBC reports when the group's attempts to recover their money in the courts failed, they kidnapped Mr Amburn from his home in Speyer, Rhineland-Palatinate, in western Germany in June last year.

They tied him up with tape and gagged him, put him in a box in the boot of a car and drove him to Bavaria.

Along the way, they beat him up, breaking two ribs when he tried to flee during a stop. They finally locked him in a well-prepared basement of a house close to the Chiemsee lake in Bavaria.