Bengtsson kidnap trial starts

Three men went on trial in Gothenburg on Thursday in connection with the kidnapping of Fabian Bengtsson, chief executive of the Siba electronics chain.

Two of the men, 43-year old Darko Sokacic and Lirim Seferi, aged 25, are charged with kidnapping and attempted blackmail. Another man, 27-year old Alexander Markovic, is charged with attempted blackmail.

Dagens Nyheter reported in an article on Thursday that Sokacic, a Croatian war veteran, came up with the idea of kidnapping Bengtsson after seeing him in a TV advert for Siba.

“My client understood that the Bengtsson family had plenty of money,” lawyer Claes Östlund told DN.

Seferi, who holds both Australian and Italian citizenship, claims he was tricked into helping in the kidnapping.

His lawyer says that he only understood late in the day what his accomplice was planning. After he realised that it was a kidnapping, Sokacic threatened him to stop him from dropping out, said Leif Silbersky.

Bengtsson was kidnapped in a violent assault on 17th January this year. The prosecution says that the pair waited for Bengtsson in the Gothenburg garage where he kept his car, sprayed tear gas in his eyes, threatened him with a gun, and knocked him to the floor.

Bengtsson was then kept in a box for seventeen days, before being found unharmed on a park bench in Gothenburg. The gang then tried to get his family to hand over money to secure their son’s freedom.

Sven Alhbin of Gothenburg Police told Sveriges Radio that during the time that Bengtsson was being held, a false picture of disunity between the police and the Bengtsson family was deliberately portrayed, as part of a strategy for communicating with the kidnappers.

Ahlbin said that a combination of Bengtsson’s own behaviour during his imprisonment, the police’s strategy and the parents’ televised appeal to the kidnappers inspired sympathy in the kidnappers, leading them to let him go.