KID­NAPPED AND RAPED Aussie jour­nal­ist re­counts hor­ror in So­ma­lia

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - DARYL PASS­MORE

QUEENS­LAND pho­to­jour­nal­ist Nigel Bren­nan wept as he told a court how he had to lis­ten to the screams of a fe­male col­league be­ing raped and tor­tured by kid­nap­pers.

The 45-year-old was giv­ing ev­i­dence in the trial of one of the men ac­cused of seiz­ing him and Cana­dian re­porter Amanda Lind­hout in So­ma­lia in 2008 while they were on as­sign­ment and hold­ing them cap­tive for 15 months un­til their fam­i­lies paid a $700,000 ran­som.

Cana­dian me­dia re­ports that Mr Bren­nan re­counted two oc­ca­sions when he was forced to sit help­less in one room as Ms Lind­hout was at­tacked in another, telling a judge at the On­tario Su­pe­rior Court that although he was just 5m away, it might have well been a mil­lion miles.

“Four of the young gun­men came in one night,” he said. One told him: “What­ever you hear, do not open your door.’’

It was fol­lowed by his friend’s ag­o­nised screams of “No! No! No! No! No!”

On a sec­ond oc­ca­sion, af­ter the pair had been moved to another lo­ca­tion, he said he could hear Ms Lind­hout scream­ing for up to 90 min­utes.

Chok­ing back tears on the wit­ness stand, Mr Bren­nan told Judge Robert Smith: “Ob­vi­ously, I was very con­cerned for her. I knew she was be­ing tor­tured.”

Ms Lind­hout, now 36, has told the trial she was re­peat­edly sex­u­ally abused and beaten dur­ing her 460 days of hell.

On one oc­ca­sion she was hogtied, blind­folded, gagged with a sock in her mouth and left for three days.

So­mali Ali Omar Ader, 40, has pleaded not guilty to hostage-tak­ing.

He was ar­rested two years ago when a Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice of­fi­cer lured him to Ot­tawa in an elab­o­rate trap by pos­ing as a book agent af­ter Ader had made con­tact with Ms Lind­out’s fam­ily fol­low­ing her re­lease.

Prose­cu­tors say Ader ad­mit­ted twice that he was the ran­som ne­go­tia­tor who dealt with both fam­i­lies and was paid $10,000 from the ran­som. They do not al­lege that he was among the group who phys­i­cally or sex­u­ally as­saulted Ms Lind­hout.

But Mr Bren­nan told the court it would be wrong to por­tray Ader as un­threat­en­ing. “He was the one who was threat­en­ing, mak­ing ran­som de­mands and threat­en­ing our lives.”

With the kid­nap­pers ini­tially de­mand­ing $2.5 mil­lion, Ms Lind­hout, whose mother earned min­i­mum wage and fa­ther was on a dis­abil­ity pay­ment, said they might as well just kill her there and then.

“Are you ready to die?’’ Ader is al­leged to have replied. The trial con­tin­ues

next week.

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