Staff held in kidnapping

10th July 1998 at 01:00

Ten teachers and other staff at a Jesuit school in Macau have been charged in connection with the kidnapping of their elderly Portuguese principal.

Detectives are investigating claims that Father Benjamin Videira Pires, 80, was abducted by his staff and that they tried to force him to sign a last will and testament on the future control of the school. He was rescued by mainland police from a hotel in Guangdong Province, China, 48 hours after his brother alerted police.

Staff at the Instituto D Melchoir Carneiro school have issued a statement claiming Father Pires was taken to China for medical treatment. But Father Pires has insisted no medical examination took place and that he was taken against his will. Public Security Bureau officials in China said he was found in a "state of severe distress".

There are also claims that he was kept undervirtual house-arrest for several weeks prior to the abduction.

The incident is understood to be the latest in a long-running dispute over the control of the school that Father Pires founded in 1961. A spokesperson for Macau education department confirmed that the school, owned by the Macau Society of Jesus, had been officially suspended in 1996 but stilloperates illegally.

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