Ye­meni cap­tors did me no phys­i­cal harm: Priest

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Catholic priest from In­dia who was freed af­ter be­ing held 18 months in Ye­men said yes­ter­day that he was never phys­i­cally harmed dur­ing his cap­tiv­ity, even if his cap­tors feigned hit­ting him on videos seek­ing ran­som. Of­fi­cials said they had no knowl­edge of ran­som hav­ing been paid.

The Rev. Tom Uzhun­nalil was kid­napped from a home for se­nior cit­i­zens in Aden, south­ern Ye­men, es­tab­lished by Mother Teresa’s Mis­sion­ar­ies of Char­ity in March 2016. Four nuns were killed dur­ing the at­tack. Uzhun­nalil’s voice broke as he pub­licly ex­pressed his con­do­lences. “I thank God almighty for this day. He saved me healthy enough. Clear mind. Emo­tions un­der con­trol un­til now,” the 59-year-old Uzhun­nalil said. “God has been ex­tremely kind to me. No gun was pointed at me.”

He said that when the home for se­nior cit­i­zens was at­tacked, he iden­ti­fied him­self as an In­dian and he was brought to an­other room “while they killed the oth­ers.”

In­dian of­fi­cials an­nounced his re­lease on Tues­day, and im­ages show a bearded, gaunt Uzhun­nalil de­scend­ing from an air­plane in Mus­cat, Oman. The priest said he had been trans­ferred from Ye­men by car to Oman, and then brought by air to the cap­i­tal be­fore con­tin­u­ing his jour­ney to Rome. The priest said he didn’t know his kid­nap­pers’ iden­ti­ties or af­fil­i­a­tions and be­lieved their mo­tive was ran­som, al­though the head of Uzhun­nalil’s Sale­sian or­der, Don A F Ar­time, said they had no knowl­edge of any ran­som hav­ing been paid. “No one ever told us that they asked for money. No one asked us for even a euro,” Ar­time said. “We don’t know any­thing about this. This is the whole truth. And I be­lieve that Fa­ther Tom knows even less.” The mech­a­nisms be­hind his re­lease also were un­clear, but the Vatican has thanked the Sul­tan of Oman in a state­ment and Uzhun­nalil thanked lead­ers in his na­tive In­dia. —AP

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