Latin America & Caribbean

Colombian model held for allegedly helping kidnappers

Photo released by Cali police of Paulin Karine Díaz and a man flanked by anti-kidnapping officers Image copyright Cali Police
Image caption Paulin Karine Díaz was arrested along with a man known as "The Witch"

Police in Colombia have arrested a local TV presenter and model on suspicion that she helped a kidnapping ring abduct a businessman and a lawyer.

Paulin Karine Díaz, 27, was detained by Colombia's elite counter-kidnapping force in the city of Cali.

Police said she was a "honeytrap" who lured the men out of a club and into the arms of the kidnappers in 2011.

The kidnappers asked for $1m (£800,000) in ransom for the men, who are missing believed dead, police said.

Police said Hugo López Moncayo and Milton Caro Villamil were approached by Ms Díaz in a nightclub on 30 December 2011 and allege that she helped lure them to the place where they were held.

Investigators suspect the two men were killed and their bodies thrown into the Cauca river.

Police said a witness had given them the information that led them to Ms Díaz.

A man known by the alias "The Witch" was also arrested. Police said he had guarded the two kidnap victims.

Ms Díaz was arrested as she was leaving a local TV station where she occasionally worked presenting a sports and fitness segment.

The manager of the channel said she received no payment for her work "but did it for the exposure".

Colombia was for years the world's kidnapping hotspot, with human rights groups estimating that almost 33,000 people have been seized since 1970.

But according to police figures, the numbers of kidnappings dropped 92% between 2000 and 2016, mainly because the country's largest rebel group, Farc, stopped kidnapping people as part of the peace deal it signed with the government.

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