Cracks appear in German immigrant's kidnapping tale

Documents suggest that victim may have set up his own kidnapping to extort money from his father.

police 224.88 (photo credit: Israel Police)
police 224.88
(photo credit: Israel Police)
Less than two weeks after Tel Aviv police described a dramatic kidnapping and ransom, doubts are being cast on German oleh Rafael Angel's harrowing tale of abduction and weeks of abusive captivity. Angel, who goes by Rafael Engel in his native Germany, has been the subject of a German police probe. Police there believe that a computer screen-selling business that he co-owned with Ron Greenbaum failed to deliver their product to customers or to pay their suppliers - and that the two simply packed up and left for Israel - leaving their debts behind them. The same Greenbaum was allegedly one of the masterminds behind the kidnapping - possibly in an effort to extort money owed to him by Angel. But the suspicions against Angel, according to a report in Ma'ariv Tuesday, are more sinister than shady business dealings back in Germany. According to documents turned over to the Hebrew-language daily, there is a chance that Angel himself was behind the kidnapping, in an effort to get his father to sign over cash from a joint account that required the senior Angel's signature. One of the central points of evidence, the newspaper's NRG Web site claimed, was that Angel and his captors were seen at a Dead Sea resort - a fact that Angel's father did not deny. Previously, Angel had claimed that he was imprisoned the whole time in apartments in the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv areas, and that he had feared for his life. Also Tuesday, Russia extradited a man to Germany suspected of kidnapping a Russian-Israeli student and holding him hostage in Berlin for 12 days last year. The 40-year-old, identified only as Ihar M., is the main suspect in the August 2006 kidnapping of Vadim Freinkman, then 20, who has long lived in Germany and also holds Israeli citizenship. The suspect was arrested in Moscow in January and has now been flown to Berlin, said Michael Grunwald, a prosecution spokesman there. Ihar M. is accused of kidnapping Freinkman and demanding nearly 1 million euros in ransom from his family. German authorities hope to try him along with three alleged accomplices in a Berlin court, but no court date has been set. Freinkman told police after his release that he had been abducted by two people from his Berlin home. He said the kidnappers demanded ransom from his family and threatened to kill him if they failed to pay. His mother lives in St. Petersburg, Russia. Freinkman was released in a Berlin suburb after his relatives left the ransom money in cash in a village outside the German capital. AP contributed to this report.