The lawyer for a man accused of conspiring to abduct a 20-year-old woman and holding her for ransom says the entire ordeal may have been fabricated for publicity, and that authorities could have been totally hoodwinked.
Michal Herba, whose brother Lukasz Herba was arrested in Italy in July for the alleged kidnapping of British model Chloe Ayling, is currently fighting extradition from the UK to Milan to face charges.
Italian authorities claim Lukasz invited Ayling to a fake photoshoot in Milan, before drugging her with ketamine, tying her up, and driving her to a secluded village near Turin.
It’s alleged he kept Ayling there for six days, while threatening to sell her into sex slavery on the Dark Web unless he received a ransom equalling $448,000.
She was eventually released to the British consulate, allegedly after the kidnapping ring learned she is a mother.
Speaking before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, Michal Herba’s lawyer George Hepburn Scott said elements of the claims suggest the entire thing was a massive hoax.
“It would amount to an abuse of process of the court if there was any evidence to suggest this was a publicity stunt,” Scott said.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that the entire case is a sham,” Scott he told the judge, referencing “a unique set of anomalies which might lead to the conclusion that the Italian authorities have been duped and that their process has been abused.”
In particular, Scott referenced the a “wholly anomalous” allegation that Ayling and Lukasz Herba had gone out shopping for shoes. He also pointed to claims that prior to her release to the consulate, she had breakfast with her kidnapper.
Scott also criticised the lack of DNA evidence and victim statements.
In August, Ayling’s lawyer denied claims the situation was a stitch-up, saying “the implication that she was involved – as I read with disgust in some newspapers this morning — is just unimaginable.”
Michael Herba also personally argued against his extradition, saying that the expected birth of his child in October meant he needed to stay in the UK.
A judge is set to rule on Herba’s extradition on Friday, local time.