British model not part of kidnap plot: Lawyer

Ms Chloe Ayling was abducted on July 11 but later released. Her kidnappers reportedly sought to sell her online as a sex slave, say the police.
Ms Chloe Ayling was abducted on July 11 but later released. Her kidnappers reportedly sought to sell her online as a sex slave, say the police.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ CHLOE AYLING

LONDON • The lawyer for a British model allegedly abducted in Italy by kidnappers who planned to auction her online through the dark Web claims that any doubts about her story have been dismissed.

Ms Chloe Ayling, 20, was abducted on July 11 by at least two men after she was lured from London to a phoney photo shoot at an abandoned storefront in Milan, according to Italian police.

During her captivity, she was drugged, gagged, bound, stuffed into a duffel bag and driven in the trunk of a car to a remote farmhouse outside Turin, where she slept with her hands and feet tied to furniture, the police said.

Her captor released her after six days and took her to the British consulate in Milan.

The Guardian reported yesterday that claims have surfaced of Ms Ayling shopping for groceries and shoes with her captor, prompting questions about the degree of coercion she was under and whether the pair may have collaborated in a fake kidnapping.

Her lawyer, Mr Francesco Pesce, told The Guardian she was afraid to resist as she believed there were others in the gang who would harm her if she tried to escape.

"There were legitimate doubts... which were surpassed," Mr Pesce said. "What Chloe told the police for 10 hours, it wasn't easy on her. If the police were convinced after that, then I am convinced."

"She was subjected to a tremendous ordeal and she suffered so much," he told BBC Radio , calling suggestions of collaboration "evil".

Ms Ayling's close friend, Ms Carla Berlucci, told BBC TV that Ms Ayling, whom she has known for five years, is a "good girl, a little bit naive".

"I've feared for my life, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour," Ms Ayling told reporters outside her mother's home in London, according to the Independent.

Her kidnappers reportedly sought to sell her online as a sex slave for US$300,000, (S$415,100), according to the police.

Italian police arrested 30-year- old Polish national Lukasz Pawel Herba, who lives part-time in England, and charged him with kidnapping, said Mr Lorenzo Bucossi, head of the Milan Police Mobile Command unit.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'British model not part of kidnap plot: Lawyer'. Print Edition | Subscribe