NIGHTMARE WAIT FOR FAMILY OF JAMES MISSING IN COLOMBIA
FATHER SAYS RANSOM DEMAND AND TORTURE VIDEO REPORTS ‘NOT TRUE’
THE FATHER of Wexfordman James Hillis (40) who is missing in Colombia, South America, said the family are just living day to day in the hope that he will get in contact with them.
Jim Hillis of Barntown hit out at newspaper reports that the family received a ransom demand for €150,000 for his son’s safe return along with a gruesome video showing him being tortured.
‘That never, ever happened. We never received a video. I haven’t heard of anyone who has seen a video. I don’t know where the newspapers are getting these stories,’ said Jim, who is involved in Barntown Community Centre and Squash Club.
Jim said he was informed by a local Garda in
Wexford that his son travelled to Colombia and has gone missing.
‘Someone reported him missing in Colombia. The Colombian police, through Interpol, contacted Garda Headquarters in Dublin, who got in touch with the local gardai. They contacted me about two weeks ago’.
‘The Columbian police contacted the police here to say they had concerns for the welfare of a man called James Hillis,’ said Jim.
He said the family were ‘absolutely shocked’ to read reports in national newspapers last week, claiming that they had received a ransom demand.
‘I have never received a call from Columbia. I would like to know where they got that. I would hate people to think that I was asked for a ransom and I didn’t pay it,’ he said.
Jim said he is in contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and a local garda every week and ‘they haven’t heard anything’.
A local politician made initial contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs on his behalf. ‘Every week they ring me and so far there has been no news,’ he said.
‘The Department have been in contact with the Embassy in Colombia. There is an investigation going on over there.’
‘I ring the garda here every week and there is no update.’
Jim said it was very unusual for James not to have contacted his family in so long. It is now about five weeks since he has been in touch and they are very worried about him.
James travelled to Colombia from Tenerife, Spain where he and his partner Rachel and their three children have been living. Since his disappearance, Rachel has returned to Wexford with the children.
Jim said recent media reports have compounded the family’s distress. ‘My God, what makes it worse is newspapers putting out these stories that are not true. I want to clarify two things - one we did not receive a ransom for €150,000 and two, the report that we were sent a video of him being tortured, that is not true.’
‘I was absolutely shocked when I saw that in the papers. If someone can come along and show me a video. Where the papers get these stories, I have no idea.’
Speaking about the family’s ordeal, Jim said: ‘We’re just living day to day, hoping that something will happen and that he’ll ring’.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: ‘We are aware of the case and providing consular assistance. It is the policy of the Department not to comment on ongoing cases.’
James Hillis, missing in Colombia, according to Interpol.
James Hillis who is missing in Colombia.