Chef rescued from Chinese kidnappers

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The Independent Online
A Chinese chef was freed by police officers in London yesterday after he had been held captive for 12 days during which his kidnappers had threatened to chop off his head, arm and fingers.

Xiao Ming Cao, 25, was found handcuffed to a radiator at an address in north London. A gang of Chinese criminals had carried out the pounds 40,000 ransom bid, although the police refused to say whether any Triad gangsters had been involved.

Ten people were arrested in a series of raids yesterday, including two men in China, where the ransom was supposed to have be paid.

The kidnappers forced Mr Xiao's 19-year-old wife, who was in China at the time, to listen on the telephone to the sounds of her husband being beaten by them.

After he was kidnapped on Monday 23 June, the gang fed Mr Xiao just a small bowl of rice on every second day.

More than 50 officers from Scotland Yard's Organised Crime Group worked on the kidnapping. At one point the kidnappers were "negotiated down" to the point where they were prepared to accept pounds 12,000.

However, detectives yesterday carried out a series of dawn raids in which Five people were arrested at the house where Mr Xiao was being held. A gun was also recovered.

As the police officers raided the house they showed thekidnap victim a note, written in both Chinese and English, saying: "Xiao Ming Cao we are the police. Don't worry. Do as we say."

Detective Superintendent Jeff Rees said yesterday: "He was almost in a state of disbelief, followed by enormous relief, particularly when he saw the note."

Mr Xiao broke down and cried. He was in hospital last night recovering from the injuries he suffered during the beatings.

Three people were arrested at another address in north London and a number of arrests were also made in connection with other offences in Dudley, West Midlands, and Bicester in Oxfordshire.

Two Metropolitan Police officers were sent to mainland China to liaise with the Chinese police during the operation.

Two men were arrested as they arrived to pick up the ransom in China.

Det Supt Rees declined to say whether there was any Triad involvement in the kidnapping, but he did say that the police were treating the offence as the work of "an organised gang of professional criminals".

He added: "This was a skilled and determined kidnap and threats were made to mutilate the victim if the ransom was not paid.

"The hostage had been beaten, suffered bruising and is traumatised.

"We are waiting to interview him through an interpreter. He has suffered a great deal and needs time to recover."

He said that Mr Xiao, who came to this country in January 1995, was from a farming family in the Chinese province of Fuzhow.

Police say that they are baffled as to why a 25-year-old chef from a farming family should have been the target of a ransom demand.