March 24, 2010

GERMANY: Old Rage Pensioners jailed for kidnapping, torturing financial adviser

. LONDON, England / The Daily Mail / World News / March 24, 2010 By Allan Hall A gang of old age pensioners who kidnapped and tortured their financial adviser because he had 'taken us for a ride' were jailed in Germany today. The five German seniors said they were so incensed over the losses that American-born investment specialist James Amburn incurred that they hatched the plan to kidnap him in a bid to get their cash back. They were charged with kidnapping, illegally confining and causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Amburn, 56. And at the court in Traunstein - the town where the Pope was raised - they paid for their payback with hefty jail terms. Ringleader Roland Koenig, 74, got six years, his main accomplice Willy Dehmer, 60, four years, Koenig's wife Sieglinde, 79, a 21-month suspended sentence and doctor Iris Fell, 63, an 18-month suspended sentence. Proceedings against the fifth member of the geriatic gang, Dr. Gerhard Fell, 67, were suspended because of ill health. Judge Karl Niedermeier said their crime was a 'spectacular case of taking the law into their own hands'. But he meted out more lenient sentences than the 12 and nine years that the prosecution asked for the two main defendants. Show of support: Roland Koenig, 74, and his wife Sieglinde, 79, shake hands before the trial During the trial the court also heard that Amburn himself is now under investigation by authorities in Karlsruehe for suspected fraud. Amburn was ambushed outside his home in Speyer, western Germany, where he was bound with masking tape and bundled into the boot of a car after being hit over the head with the walking frame of one of his kidnappers. According to the prosecutors, kidnappers Koenig and Dehmer attacked Amburn outside his home and bundled him into an oversize cardboard box which they wheeled to the boot of a silver Audi saloon car. Crime scene: Amburn was abducted and driven to a house on the shores of Lake Chiemsee Prosecutors said they carried out the kidnapping in order to recoup losses amounting to £2.3million in investments that soured due to the international financial downturn. Amburn was driven 300 miles to a house on the shores of beautiful Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria - but not before escaping at a service station. His elderly abductors recaptured him and beat him, breaking two of their captive's ribs. Prosecutors described the kidnapping and torture as 'almost surreal - except it happened'. Amburn was kept in the cellar of the house for four days in June last year and was beaten and tortured by the pensioners - their rage fuelled by visions of their comfortable retirement dreams evaporating before their eyes. Gerhard and Iris Fell arrived to assist the kidnappers and admitted their roles in the plot. Mr Fell was not in court due to illness. Koenig and his wife made partial admissions but he, bizarrely, told the court that Mr Amburn was there 'willingly'. He said he and the others had met Amburn in Florida in the 1990s and they possessed holiday homes in the state. 'He said he was a business adviser and promised us yields of 18 percent on our savings,' he told the court. 'At first that happened - but then he took the p**s.' They met up co-incidentally with Dehmer who told them Amburn owed him US$690,000. Together, say prosecutors, the plan coalesced to 'teach him a lesson'. 'The fear of death was indescribable,' Amburn said, adding that he was beaten and tortured during four days of captivity in a cellar room where he was held naked. He was rescued when he was ordered to send a fax to release funds from a Swiss bank and managed to scribble a message on it for the recipient to call police. He said: 'I told them that if I sold certain securities in Switzerland they could get their money and for this I had to send a fax to a bank.' Allowed out of the cellar for a cigarette break in the garden while the kidnappers awaited their loot, Amburn attempted to escape over a wall. In the pouring rain he ran down the street pursued by his captors in the Audi A8 they had used to transport him to the house. Several people saw him, but Roland Koening shouted: 'He's a burglar!' Mr Amburn was then dragged back to the cellar. Shortly afterwards, the Swiss bank telephoned police in Germany after noticing that a fax he sent them contained the message 'call police' on it. A team of armed commandos stormed the house and freed a naked and shaken Mr Amburn who is still undergoing psychiatric therapy because of the ordeal. Their lawyer Harald Baumgaertl insisted before the court that his clients were not 'big criminals'. But the prosecution disagreed, saying they showed a 'high degree of criminal energy'. [rc] © Associated Newspapers Ltd