Lie-detectors for US kidnap case in Pakistan

2011-08-18 20:49

Lahore - Five days after an elderly American aid expert was kidnapped in Pakistan, police said on Thursday they would carry out lie-detector tests on his staff in a desperate search for leads.

Warren Weinstein, 70, country director for US-based consultancy JE Austin Associates, was snatched by eight gunmen who tricked their way past his guards and forced his driver to wake him up before dawn on Saturday.

He was struck on the head with a pistol and driven off, apparently without witnesses, in a wealthy neighbourhood of the eastern city of Lahore where previous kidnappings of Westerners were practically unheard of.

Police have so far drawn a blank on who kidnapped him and why, other than concluding that he was targeted because of his nationality.

Anti-Americanism is rife in Pakistan, exacerbated by the May 2 covert raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the killing of two men by a CIA contractor in Lahore last January. The country hosts Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.

"We have decided to conduct lie-detector tests on the security guards and the driver to verify their statements given to investigators," senior police official Atif Hayat told AFP.

"From today, we will start their screening. We are also interrogating the security company officials responsible for his security," Hayat said.

"We are questioning all those who served at his office in the past," he added.

The staff are under suspicion partly because Weinstein was taken just two days before he was due to leave Pakistan after seven years, raising the possibility that his movements may have been leaked to the kidnappers.

Police on Thursday released a sketch of one of the kidnappers, showing a man aged about 25 wearing a shirt with a mop of dark hair.

A senior Pakistani employee of JE Austin reiterated that the firm is increasingly worried about Weinstein's health and searching for ways to inform the kidnappers about the medication he requires.