Baron Edouard-Jean Empain who lost finger to kidnappers dies

Baron Edouard-Jean Empain who lost finger to kidnappers dies

A French-Belgian industrialist who was the victim of one of France’s most notorious kidnappings has died aged 80.

In 1978 Baron Edouard-Jean Empain, then head of the Schneider Group, was seized at gunpoint from his chauffeur-driven car near his home in Paris.

He was held for 63 days, chained in darkness, starved, and beaten.

The case grabbed attention when the kidnappers cut off his fingertip and threatened further mutilation unless his family paid a huge ransom.

Baron Empain was 40 at the time, and one of France’s leading captains of industry. His Schneider group comprised some 300 companies and employed 150,000 people worldwide.

He was the grandson of Edouard Empain, who had been ennobled by the King of the Belgians after building an industrial empire in the late 19th Century.

Botched ambush

In January 1978 armed men stopped his car on Avenue Foch, in Paris’ wealthy 16th arrondissement. The chauffeur was bundled into a van – and quickly released- while kidnappers took the baron away in his car.

There was initial speculation that he had been targeted by one of the left-wing militant groups that were seizing prominent industrialists across Europe at the time.

But it quickly emerged that the abductors’ motive was old-fashioned extortion. They contacted the family demanding 80m francs – the equivalent of about 50m euros (£45m) in today’s money.

The ransom note came with a packet containing the baron’s left little finger.

As kidnappings – both criminal and political – were becoming increasingly frequent, police decided to set an example, and vetoed plans by the family to pay up.

Instead, they lured the kidnappers to a rendezvous point. But the ambush was botched and the ensuing shootout left two officers wounded.

One the abductors was killed and another was captured, but the baron was still chained up in a hideaway in a Paris suburb.

‘Broken man’

The detained kidnapper, Alain Caillol, convinced his accomplices to release their captive. Two days later the baron was found wandering the streets south of Paris, disorientated and emaciated – with a 10-franc note his captors had given him to get home.

Caillol later said they had experienced “Stockholm syndrome in reverse” – where the kidnappers end up sympathising with their victim.

“He dominated us morally. Everyone saw in him the dream of what he wanted to be: handsome, rich, powerful, intelligent,” Caillol told APF news agency in 2012.

After serving his jail sentence, Caillol sought out Empain to ask for forgiveness. He was not the only one to feel sorry over the baron’s ordeal.

During the investigation, police had to delve into his private life to look for possible clues. As a result, his infidelities and gambling sprees became widely known. Public sympathy for him was limited and his wife divorced him shortly after his release.

Empain was left bitter, feeling people had turned against him. He eventually withdrew from business life.

“He was a completely broken man,” one of the investigators recently told France Info radio.

“It was terrible that he suffered so much for a few peccadilloes, while he himself showed impeccable virtue. He forgave his kidnappers… Even though he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, I felt he was hard-done by.”

Great Exhibition of the North: Thousands see opening ceremony

Great Exhibition of the North: Thousands see opening ceremony

More than 20,000 people lined the banks of the Tyne for a show marking start of the Great Exhibition of the North.

Up to three million people are expected to visit the 80-day festival, which celebrates the scientific and artistic achievements of the north of England.

The festival, centred on the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides, is predicted to generate about £184m.

It opened at 13:00 BST, with a further ceremony at 22:00 BST featuring aerial displays of drones and live music.

Former Chancellor George Osborne came up with the idea as part of his Northern Powerhouse scheme.

See live coverage of the launch

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “The Great Exhibition is an opportunity for us to say, loud and proud, that our better days are ahead of us, rather than behind us.”

A hundred drones fitted with LED lights were piloted in formation between the Sage music centre and the Baltic art gallery, choreographed to form different 3D shapes.

Projects director Mungo Denison said: “We don’t think people have seen something like this before.”

There was also an 80m water sculpture on the Tyne and a spectacular fireworks display.

The opening night line-up included Maximo Park, Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid and Stephenson’s Rocket.

Among the other highlights are John Lennon’s last piano and the original Postman Pat models.

The exhibition will continue until September, with events and trails at 40 venues across Tyneside.

Newcastle Gateshead Initiative chief executive Sarah Stewart said: “It will reward repeat visits, there’s no way someone coming for the day would be able to see all aspects of it.”

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Newcastle-Gateshead will put on a fantastic festival for the whole country.

“It will once more highlight the creative strength of the Northern Powerhouse and how cultural investment can boost economies and inspire communities.”

Carol Bell, executive director of Great Exhibition Of The North, added: “This marks the start of an incredible summer and we hope local residents and visitors from far and wide will come and experience the array of amazing exhibits, live performances and displays of innovation we have on offer for free throughout the summer.”

An “alternative” event, The Other Exhibition of the North, has also been set up, which organisers say is aimed at being “broader and more diverse”.

Late drop-goal helps Castleford beat Wigan

Late drop-goal helps Castleford beat Wigan
Jamie Ellis's last-minute drop goal secured both points for Castleford

Betfred Super League
Castleford (4) 19
Tries: Laulu-Togagae, Shenton, Cook Goals: Ellis 3 Drop-goal: Ellis
Wigan (12) 18
Tries: Tomkins, Marshall, Davies Goals: Tomkins 3

Jamie Ellis’ late drop goal lifted Castleford to third in Super League, within a point of second-placed Wigan.

After Sam Tomkins’ opening try was cancelled out by Quentin Laulu-Togagae, Wigan led 12-4 at half-time thanks to Liam Marshall’s 75-yard breakaway try.

But Cas hit back with tries from Michael Shenton and Matt Cook, either side of an Ellis penalty.

Wigan crossed again through Tom Davies after Cook’s late yellow card but Ellis finally won it with that one-pointer.

It was also a relief for Cas who, just before Cook powered over from close range to put them ahead for the first time, had contrived one of the misses of the season when, from seven yards out, James Green’s poor pass was dropped by Junior Moors with the line begging.

The Cherry and Whites looked favourites to add to last Saturday’s win at Hull when Cook’s sinbinning for a dangerous tackle on Romain Navarrete left Cas to play the last 10 minutes with only 12 men – and Wigan immediately cashed in when Tomkins set up winger Davies to score under the posts.

But the final nine minutes became a private drop kick contest with both sides trying to engineer the perfect platform for a one-pointer.

In the end, after several failed attempts at both ends and just when Cas looked set to draw for the second game running, Ellis was successful with his third attempt.

His scruffy kick took a deflection on its way over the bar – but it signalled Wigan’s fourth defeat in five games – and earned Cas their first win in four.

Wigan’s enforced changes

Wigan had Liam Paisley making his debut in their pack against a Cas side still depleted by injuries, while Josh Woods took over from George Williams at stand-off.

Williams, John Bateman and skipper Sean O’Loughlin were all included in Wayne Bennett’s 19-man squad to take on New Zealand in Saturday’s mid-season Test in Denver, Colorado.

But Williams has since been ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury – and Wigan, already missing Joe Burgess, were further hampered by the early loss of Dan Sarginson.

Liam Marshall's second try in seven days was his 12th of the season

Castleford match-winner Jamie Ellis told BBC Radio Five Live:

“It was third time lucky for me. You’ve just got to keep your head down and keep going for it.

“It was a great effort from the boys, especially over that last 10 minutes when we were a man down.

“It’s a massive win. A great effort from the young boys we had out there.

“We kept turning the ball over too easily in the first half but we knew that, if we competed, we had them.”

Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane told BBC Radio Manchester:

“We’re really disappointed but I’m happy with the effort. I thought we had a dig with the young kids as well as some of the senior players and we did some good things.

“I thought we did enough to get something out of the game but it wasn’t to be.

“The effort was great. Just a bit of smarts and we could have won the game quite easily but I don’t want to take anything away from Cas, they were quite rightly the winners.”

Castleford: Laulu-Togagae; Clare, Webster, Shenton, Hitchcox; Ellis, Trueman; Cook, McShane, Massey, Moors, Millington, Maher.

Interchanges: Springer, Green, Clark, Egodo.

Sin bin: Cook (70)

Wigan: Tomkins; Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Marshall; Woods, Powell; Navarrete, Leuluai, Flower, Paisley, Isa, Hamlin.

Interchanges: Clubb, Tautai, Escare, Field.

Buhari Pledges To Restore Devastated Communities In North-East

Buhari Pledges To Restore Devastated Communities In North-East

Ariel View of an IDP Camp in Borno State, North-east Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country that his administration will leave no stone unturned in restoring their devastated communities for their immediate and safe return.

He gave the assurance on Friday in Abuja in a statement by Attah Esa, the Deputy Director of Information at the State House.

The President congratulated the 2,000 IDPs at the Kuchingoro Camp in the Federal Capital Territory who are getting set to return to their communities in the North-east.

He spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, who received the IDPs at the precincts of the Aso Rock Villa on his behalf.

President Buhari vowed that his administration would not forget citizens in their time of distress and would continue to work for the betterment and security of the people.

He also used the opportunity to thank members of the international community and Nigerians, including Mr Aliko Dangote, General T.Y. Danjuma, and other philanthropists, for their sustained efforts towards the reconstruction and rehabilitation of destroyed communities in the troubled region.

Responding on behalf of the displaced persons who were mainly women and children, Mrs Maryam Nuhu thanked President Buhari’s administration for the onslaught against the Boko Haram terrorists and the ongoing reconstruction of their communities.

She said, “Our towns and villages have been cleared of these terrorists. We can now confidently return home and pick up our lives from the points where we will meet them.

“Mr President, thanks for making this possible for us to be returning home. Our sad story took a turn for the better because of the calibre of military leaders you appointed.”

Italy migrant row: 'Inhumane' Malta refuses rescue ship

Italy migrant row: 'Inhumane' Malta refuses rescue ship

Italy has attacked Malta for refusing to take in a ship of migrants.

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli shared a photo of an email by the Maltese Armed Forces saying the vessel “has not manifested any distress”.

Mr Toninelli called the decision (in Italian) “inhumane” and “absurd”.

The Lifeline, carrying 226 migrants rescued from the sea near the Libyan coast, is one of two ships operated by German NGO Mission Lifeline that the Italians have vowed to impound.

They are accused of “illegally” flying the Dutch flag.

Why does Italy want to seize the ships?

Italy’s new right-wing government has taken a harder stance on rescue ships bringing large numbers of migrants to Italy, which is often the nearest port for those rescued off coast of Libya.

Mr Toninelli said earlier the ship had broken the law by taking the migrants, even though the Libyan coastguard had already intervened to rescue them.

He said Italy would seize both the Lifeline and the Seefuchs to determine their legal status, and added that Italy would “once again save the migrants”.

Italy’s new far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini initially said in a post on Facebook that the two NGO ships should “go to Holland”, as it was said to be flying under a Dutch flag, and should not dock in Italy.

Whether or not the ship is Dutch is the subject of some debate. The Dutch delegation to the EU said in a tweet that the ships were not registered in the Netherlands, and not flying under its flag.

Mission Lifeline, however, later posted an image on Twitter of a registration document it says proves the ships sail under the Dutch flag.

The group also tweeted that it had carried out another rescue overnight, though it is not clear how many additional migrants, if any, boarded their ship.

The NGO’s co-founder, Axel Steier, denied breaking any laws and defended his organisation’s actions.

“In this situation you can’t wait,” he said. “If you have a rescue you prevent people from dying, from drowning and then you have to make the decisions. You can’t wait until someone has a port for you – you have to act immediately.”

Europe’s rescue row

The planned seizure of the Lifeline and Seefuchs comes amid a deepening row over migrant rescues after Italy’s new populist government refused earlier this month to take in a stranded rescue ship carrying 630 migrants.

The Aquarius eventually sailed to Spain after it was also turned away by Malta. It has now resumed its operations at sea.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has accused the Italian government of “cynicism and irresponsibility” for refusing to let the Aquarius dock.

Then on Thursday, without referring directly to Italy, Mr Macron attacked the “leprosy” of anti-EU feeling among “friends and neighbours”.

Mr Salvini hit back at the French president.

“We may be leper populists, but I take the lessons from those who open their own ports. Welcome thousands of migrants and then we can talk,” the interior minister said.

Leaders from 10 EU member states will meet in Brussels on Sunday to discuss how best to stem the flow of migrants to the bloc.

The Italian government has said it will not sign up to any EU plan unless it makes helping Italy a priority, while Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – known as the Visegrad Group – say they will boycott the talks.

Italy’s government wants to deport half a million undocumented migrants, many of whom are housed in squalid reception centres. More than 600,000 have reached Italy from Libya in the past four years.

Trump highlights victims of migrants amid family separations row

Trump highlights victims of migrants amid family separations row

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US President Donald Trump has hosted the relatives of victims killed by illegal immigrants amid outrage over the separation of migrant families.

“Your loved ones have not died in vain,” he told the group of so-called Angel Families at the White House.

Mr Trump has faced global condemnation for the US immigration policy that has seen more than 2,000 migrant children stripped from their families.

He bowed to public pressure and reversed the policy earlier this week.

The president signed an executive order on Wednesday to end the separate detention of undocumented immigrant children from their parents after illegally entering the country.

As part of the the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which seeks to criminally charge and jail undocumented border crossers, children cannot legally be held with their parents. They have instead been kept in separate facilities.

What did the president say?

“These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones,” he said on Friday, before introducing family members of victims.

“I cannot imagine it being any worse, but we promise to act with strength and resolve.

“We’ll not rest until our border is secure, our citizens are safe and we end this immigration crisis once and for all,” Mr Trump added.

Laura Wilkerson, whose son was killed in 2010 by an undocumented immigrant, told audience members: “None of our kids had a minute to say goodbye. We weren’t lucky enough to be separated for five days or 10 days.

“We were separated permanently.”

Trump highlights victims of migrants amid family separations row

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What’s the context?

Approximately 2,300 children have been removed from their families since Mr Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy began in May, and housed in detention centres run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some shelters, including three in Texas, house so-called “tender age” children, who are under five years old.


More on child migrant separation crisis


About 500 children have been reunited with their families since May, a Homeland Security official said on Thursday. But it is unclear how the remaining families affected will be reunited.

Images of children in metal cages, and audio of young migrants crying out for their parents sparked protests and drew international condemnation from world leaders and organisations.

Trump highlights victims of migrants amid family separations row

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What is Trump’s strategy?

Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

After a week on his heels, Donald Trump has begun his counterattack.

On Friday morning, the president tweeted about the “phony stories of sadness and grief” coming from the US-Mexico border – a clear attempt to undermine media reports of traumatised undocumented immigrant families separated by US officials.

On Friday afternoon, the president stood alongside relatives of those killed by undocumented immigrants. These were the stories the media ignores, he said. These were families that had been “permanently separated”.

He cited raw numbers of murders, rapes and robberies committed, and dismissed statistics that show foreign born in the US commit crimes at a lower rate than the general population.

“You hear that they’re better people than our citizens,” Mr Trump said. “It’s not true.”

After spending the early part of the week insisting on the need for congressional immigration action, by Friday he had abandoned those efforts – tweeting that Republicans were “wasting their time” – and is girding for mid-term warfare.

The president’s political strategy appears to be to rally his base with tales of lawlessness and rampage. He’s made economic arguments against immigration in the past, about stolen jobs and strained social services, but now he is focused on fear.


Republicans in the House of Representatives have scrambled this week to drum up enough support for a “compromise” immigration bill addressing the crisis. But the bill was delayed to Friday before being pushed back to next week.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Trump tweeted congressional Republicans “should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November”.