The brother of the chief suspect in the alleged kidnapping of British glamor model Chloe Ayling will fight an extradition order to Italy.
Ayling, 20, says she was drugged, gagged, handcuffed and dumped in the trunk of a car by a gang called ‘Black Death,’ who tried to sell her as a sex slave on the internet to men in the Middle East.
Lukasz Pawl Herba, 30, a Polish national who lives in Britain, has been charged with kidnapping and extortion. On Wednesday, his brother, Michal Konrad Herba, 36, was arrested by officers from West Midlands Police.
He was apprehended on a European arrest warrant issued by Italian authorities. On Thursday, London’s Westminster Magistrates Court heard that he would contest extradition.
Lukasz Pawl Herba is said to have planned the abduction. He denies knowingly taking part in any crime, but Italian police documents revealed he was involved in Ayling’s abduction in order to raise funds for his cancer treatment.
He reportedly told investigators he planned to sell Ayling as a sex slave on the dark web for £270,000 ($350,000) before he realized she had a two-year-old child.
Michal Herba appeared in the dock on Thursday dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and was helped by an interpreter. He spoke only to give his address and date of birth, and to state that he contested his extradition.
Katherine Newey, for the defendant, made no application for bail.
“The offence took place relatively recently, no evidence has been served in this case, Mr Herba denies involvement,” she said, according to the Guardian.
The defendant is due back in court for a bail application on August 23.
Meanwhile, photos are circulating on social media of Chloe Ayling’s model friends mocking her kidnap in Milan by posing in suitcases and begging for ransom money.
The images were sent on WhatsApp groups between models who have worked with Ayling in the past. They show girls squashed inside luggage and claiming they want “£20 ransom” to be released.
A source told the Daily Star: “No-one really believes her. If they thought it was for real, they wouldn’t do it, but all the models know her.”
Questions have been raised over whether Ayling was complicit in a fake kidnapping after it emerged she went shoe-shopping with her abductor and had met him during a business meeting in Paris earlier this year.