CASTRIES, St Lucia, Friday July 28, 2017 – St Lucian officials are anxiously awaiting answers from Venezuelan authorities said to have received a video showing a young St Lucian male being tortured and held hostage in that Spanish-speaking Caribbean country.
Several videos surfaced last weekend showing a man identified as 18-year-old Scott Atkins, wearing what appears to be a blood-stained shirt, handcuffed and pleading for his life.
The teen’s family says he was in Trinidad and Tobago in February when he was kidnapped and taken to Venezuela where he has been held by his captors ever since.
In one of the videos, Atkins begs a ‘Shawn’ to pay his captors or he [Atkins] would be killed. It has been revealed that the man he mentions in his video is his cousin.
“Mommy, tell Shawn pay the people for me – mommy, mommy, the people go kill me! The people go cut my head!” the victim said as automatic weapons were pointed at his head.
In another video, Atkins is seen lying on the ground while two men, one with an automatic weapon and another with a chain saw, stand over him.
According to reports, the gang holding Atkins claims it is owed over US$130,000 by a relative of Atkins.
St Lucia’s National Security Minister Hermangild Francis has described the matter as “terrible and unfortunate”.
He expressed concern about illegal drugs and firearms being brought into St Lucia through the Venezuelan drug connections.
Venezuelan Ambassador to St Lucia, Leiff Escalona has confirmed that authorities in Caracas have received the video.
“Our Embassy has sent the little and very inexact information that has been received to the authorities in Venezuela and we are waiting,” she told RCI St Lucia’s Newsspin radio programme on Wednesday.
While expressing sympathy to the young man’s family, the Ambassador said they were still unclear about whether the incident did occur in Venezuela.
“We don’t know if the situation really happened in Venezuela, if the individuals….We don’t know,” she said.
Minister Francis said the situation should serve as a warning to youth to stay clear of the illegal drug trade.
“It just shows and tells our young people in St Lucia that yes, you may get through once, twice, three times, but you gonna be caught. And if you are caught, this is some of the penalties that you will have to face. So it’s really not a good trade to get yourself involved in,” he warned.