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Bengtsson family "in dialogue with kidnappers"

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12:55 CET+01:00
Last week, Gothenburg police imposed an increasingly effective news blackout on the search for Siba chief executive, Fabian Bengtsson. But since the weekend, the Bengtsson family have taken dramatic steps of their own to secure the return of their son, who is presumed kidnapped.

On Saturday night, a video was broadcast on SVT in which father, Bengt Bengtsson, appeals to the captors to get in touch.

At 11.10 on Tuesday, Bengt posted a message on Siba's website suggesting that contact had been made and that the video had the desired response.

In Saturday's video, Bengt and his wife Eva appear standing side by side, looking directly into the camera. Bengt delivers a short prepared message in Swedish, which he then repeats in English.

In the message, addressed to "those who know where Fabian is", Bengt says:

"We appeal to you. Please, let Fabian go or let us know what we can do to get him back to our family. Fabbe, we're thinking of you."

At the end of the tape, Eva makes what appears to be a more spontaneous plea:

"Fabian, we miss you very much. We want you to come home."

Tuesday's message on Siba's website is in Swedish and reads:

"Thank you for the contact. I've done as you asked. Make contact again so we can talk. Bengt Bengtsson."

The message was posted on the site by Siba's Communications Director, Johanna Eurén. She told GP that the family had asked her to do it, although she had not spoken with Bengt Bengtsson personally. She didn't know why the website had been used to publish the message.

In response to the web-site message, the Gothenburg police have said very little. In a press release, Commissioner Klas Friberg, who's leading the investigation, said:

"As human beings we understand the actions of the Bengtsson family."

The press release went on to say that the police would not be making any further comments concerning the message or any other aspect of the investigation.

It's thought that the police knew that the website message would be published, but it's not known whether the police were otherwise involved.

The controlled response to the website message is in stark contrast to the police's reaction to the video broadcast. This took them completely by surprise and was the first indication that the family might be at odds with the official investigation.

At the time of the broadcast, Thomas Fuxborg had just started his shift in the police's press office. He was promptly inundated with enquiries and made it abundantly clear that it was not part of the plan as far as the police were concerned.

"I've never seen anything like it in my 23 years on the force... We'll just have to take this on the chin. We really didn't have a clue this was going to happen. We've just seen the report."

Meanwhile, there's been no shortage of experts giving their view of proceedings. Dick Malmlund, security expert at the Swedish Federation of Trade, is not surprised at the turn of events, as the priorities of the police and the family seem to diverge.

"We've come to a crossroads where the interests of the police and the family aren't necessarily the same. The family has a dialogue with the kidnappers, which must be kept going. I think the family have also had a dialogue with the police. Silence is the worst."

"The police know more than they're letting on, of course. But the first few days, there were leaks all over the place. It got out of control and they 'put the lid on'. I'm glad they've managed to keep it there."

Jerzy Sarnecki, a professor in criminology, raised the unpalatable prospect that the Bengtssons had contacted people pretending to be the kidnappers.

"There's a risk that they're being tricked, They're in a very vulnerable situation."

Meanwhile, the country expectantly awaits the next development in what has become a very public kidnap drama - whether the police like it or not.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Göteborgs-Posten, TT

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