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Hostage 'assumed husband was alive'

A British woman snatched by pirates from an east African island did not know that they had killed her husband for two weeks after she was kidnapped.

Judith Tebbutt was held hostage for more than six months after she was kidnapped off the Kenyan coast, but she said she is "hugely relieved" to be free.

News of her ordeal came after her release from captivity, when a ransom was reportedly raised by relatives.

The 56-year-old was taken from the remote Kiwayu Safari Village, close to the border with Somalia, last September by a gang who killed her husband David, 58. The Tebbutts, from Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, had arrived at the safari village after visiting the Masai Mara game reserve and were the resort's only guests.

She said in a video broadcast by the BBC: "He was a good man. That was very unfortunate, really horrible. But you just need to pick up the pieces and move on. I didn't know he'd died until about, I think it was two weeks from my capture. I just assumed he was alive, but then my son told me he'd died. That was difficult.

"And it must have been hard for my son as well, very hard, and he's been fantastic, he's been absolutely fantastic, I don't know how he secured my release, but he did, and I'm really happy, I can't wait to see him, really."

Mrs Tebbutt has been reunited with her son Oliver at the British High Commission in Nairobi and is expected to be returning to the UK on Thursday.

In a statement, she said: "I am of course hugely relieved to at last be free, and overjoyed to be reunited with my son Ollie. This, however, is a time when my joy at being safe again is overwhelmed by my immense grief, shared by Ollie and the wider family, following David's passing in September last year. My family and I now need to grieve properly."

It was reported Mrs Tebbutt's family paid a ransom of 1.3m US dollars (£800,000) for her release. A spokesman for the FCO said: "The Foreign Office did not make or facilitate the payment of a ransom."

It was reported a private security company, Control Risks, negotiated with the group for months, and arranged for the cash to be dropped from an aircraft. According to the newspaper, a further £20,000 was paid to cover the pirates' costs in "accommodating" Mrs Tebbutt.


From Belfast Telegraph