Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

German pensioners 'kidnapped financial adviser'

A recent view of the Chiemsee, Bavaria, where the adviser was allegedly held captive
The financial adviser was allegedly held near the Chiemsee lake

Four pensioners have appeared in a German court charged with kidnapping a financial adviser they blamed for making rotten US property investments.

The pensioners, two married couples aged between 63 and 79, and an alleged accomplice aged 60, are charged with abducting the adviser in June 2009.

It is claimed they took him from his home in western Germany and drove him 450km (280 miles) to southern Bavaria.

There they allegedly forced him to promise to refund 2.5m euros (£2.2m).

But in a fax to a Swiss trustee, the adviser succeeded in hiding a message to the police, who ended his ordeal four days into his captivity by storming the house where he was being held.

At the beginning of the trial, the 74-year-old alleged mastermind of the group related in detail the preliminary events.

But he refrained from using the words "kidnapping" or "hostage", saying instead that he and the others had wanted to invite the financial adviser to pass a short holiday in upper Bavaria.

A verdict is expected on 23 March.

Broken ribs

According to the charges, the accused kidnapped the adviser from his home in Speyer, Rhineland-Palatinate.

They allegedly tied him up with tape and gagged him, put him in a box in the boot of a car and drove him to Bavaria.

Along the way, they allegedly beat him up, breaking two ribs when he tried to flee during a stop.

They finally locked him in a well-prepared basement of a house close to the Chiemsee lake in Bavaria, it is claimed.

Prosecutors say the accused then forced the adviser to sign various papers promising to refund the money, claiming he was responsible for their loss of millions in property transactions.

Another suspect, aged 67, did not appear in court on Monday due to health problems.

In the meantime, following complaints made by several people, investigations have been launched against the adviser for alleged breach of trust.

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