The lawyer for a Polish-born man, accused of being part of a plot to kidnap a British model in Italy, told a London court on Monday there were grounds to suspect the case was a sham.
Model Chloe Ayling, 20, has told Italian police she was held captive for six days in July after being lured to a photo shoot in Milan where she was abducted. Her lawyer said the plot was to sell the model for sex in an online auction unless a ransom was paid.
In August, Italian police arrested the alleged kidnapper, Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, and subsequently British police detained his brother Michal in central England on behalf of the Italian authorities.
Michal Herba, 36, is fighting extradition to Italy and at a hearing at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday, his lawyer George Hepburne Scott said the Italian authorities had failed to provide any details of what Herba is accused of having done.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the entire case is a sham,” Hepburne Scott said.
“There are a unique set of anomalous circumstances that may lead to the conclusion that the Italian authorities have been duped… (and that) their process had been abused.”
At the last hearing in August, Florence Iveson, the prosecutor acting on behalf of the Italian authorities, said the two brothers were accused of abducting, kidnapping and detaining Ayling between July 11 and 17 and demanding a ransom of €300,000 ($352,000).
Since her return to Britain, Ayling has given a number of TV and press interviews in which she said she was drugged, gagged, bound, stuffed into a bag, put into the boot of a car and driven to a village near Turin in north-west Italy.
She denied suggestions the case was a hoax, after it was reported in the media she had gone shopping with her alleged abductor. Ayling’s spokesman was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.
Hepburne Scott listed a number of these reports but judge Paul Goldspring said because they had appeared in the media, it did not make them true.
“Some believe it to be a sham,” the judge said. “This material doesn’t prove that.”
The case continues with a judgement on the extradition likely on Friday.