Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Canadian kidnapped in Libya glad to be back home with his family

Frank Poccia, a 52-year-old Canadian man was abducted by armed and masked gunmen on September 19th along with two Italians in the southwestern Libyan city of Ghat.

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At the time of his abduction, he along with the two Italians were working on a project at the Ghat airport. Poccia counts himself lucky to be alive and safe back home with his family in Montreal Quebec.
Poccia says that after being kidnapped the three were driven out into the desert. They spent the next seven weeks confined to small rooms. He said they were reasonably well treated by the kidnappers. He thought that they were gang members rather than terrorists. However, the most terrifying day was the day of their release. He and the two Italians were ordered at gunpoint to lay on the ground. They all thought they would be killed. Instead, they were driven to the airport and freed. Otherwise, Poccia said the worst part of his ordeal was not being able to contact his wife and children.
Poccia says he does not know whether any ransom was paid for his and the two Italians' release or the role the Italian and Canadian governments played in their release. Kidnapping is common in Libya but is often politically motivated whereas this case might have been for ransom. Poccia worked for the Aeronav Group based in the Montreal area. All three were technicians working at the Ghat project.
At the time of their release on November 5, Judy Garner, a spokesperson for the company said: "We are overjoyed with the news that our colleague, Frank Poccia, is safe and sound,. We have been in touch with Mr. Poccia's family throughout this ordeal and all we know at this time is that Mr. Poccia is physically well."
When the three were released, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi thanked Libyan authorities and security forces for their role in liberating the men saying: "Today is a moment of relief and joy that I would like to share with the families of our technicians." Canada's Global Affairs Department also issued a statement announcing the release of Poccia. At the time, Italiian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that the two Italians had not been mistreated and were in good health. The three were brought to Italy on a special flight. The Italians worked for an Italian construction company.

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