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Foreigner faces kidnap hearing
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A court created a Shanghai first yesterday when it heard the city's first kidnapping case involving a foreign defendant.

Kim Soo-seok, 44, a South Korean, is accused of abducting a young fellow countryman who studied in Shanghai in a bid to extort 300 million won (US$295,000) from the victim's wealthy father.

His two alleged Chinese accomplices, Jin Mingyu and Chi Minhao, both ethnic Koreans, face charges of illegal detention before the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court. The two alleged accomplices pleaded guilty, but Kim said he was entrusted by a friend in South Korea to demand payment of the debt.

The friend had instructed him to kidnap the student but Kim could not provide any documentation, such as an IOU.

The court has not reached a verdict.

Prosecutors said Kim came to the city last November. He had lied to Jin and Chi and enlisted their aid in abducting the young man in a bid to demand the so-called debt from the student's father, a prominent company general manager.

The student, surnamed Jean, was lured to a rented room and Kim promised to pay Jin and Chi 200,000 yuan (US$29,318) to hold the young man, prosecutors said.

On December 24, 2007, Kim had called Jean saying that he was a friend of his father and wanted to meet him at a cafe. Instead, Chi went to the cafe and lured Jean to the room where he was held for two days against his will. Prosecutors said during the two days, Kim and Chi used a cell phone card bought by Jin to call Jean's parents and demand the money.

Police swooped on the premises on December 26, freed Jean and nabbed the defendants after receiving a tip-off from the victim's teacher, the court was told.

Kim told the hearing yesterday that a friend, Kim Sang-kyu, claimed the victim's father owed him 300 million won. If Kim Soo-seok could get the money, he would share it equally with the defendant.

In a previous confession, Kim Soo-seok told police he had unsuccessfully tried to borrow money from Jean's father. He had then hatched the kidnap plot.

The two Chinese defendants said they treated the hostage well and received no money. They appealed for leniency.

(Shanghai Daily July 23,2008)

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