Queensland journalist Nigel Brennan recounts horror of a female colleague’s rape by kidnappers
QUEENSLAND photojournalist Nigel Brennan wept as he told a court how he had to listen to the screams of a female colleague being raped and tortured by kidnappers.
The 45-year-old was giving evidence in the trial of one of the men accused of seizing him and Canadian reporter Amanda Lindhout in Somalia in 2008 while they were on assignment and holding them captive for 15 months until their families paid a $700,000 ransom.
Canadian media reports that Mr Brennan recounted two occasions when he was forced to sit helpless in one room as Ms Lindhout was attacked in another, telling a judge at the Ontario Superior Court that although he was just 5m away, it might have well been a million miles.
“Four of the young gunmen came in one night,” he said. One told him: “Whatever you hear, do not open your door.’’
It was followed by his friend’s agonised screams of “No! No! No!”
On a second occasion, after the pair had been moved to another location, he said he could hear Ms Lindhout screaming for up to 90 minutes.
Choking back tears on the witness stand, Mr Brennan told Judge Robert Smith: “Obviously, I was very concerned for her. I knew she was being tortured.”
Ms Lindhout, now 36, has told the trial she was repeatedly sexually abused and beaten during her 460 days of hell.
On one occasion she was hogtied, blindfolded, gagged with a sock in her mouth and left for three days.
Somali Ali Omar Ader, 40, has pleaded not guilty to hostage-taking.
He was arrested two years ago when a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer lured him to Ottawa in an elaborate trap by posing as a book agent after Ader had made contact with Ms Lindout’s family following her release.
Prosecutors say Ader admitted twice that he was the ransom negotiator who dealt with both families and was paid $10,000 from the ransom. They do not allege that he was among the group who physically or sexually assaulted Ms Lindhout.
But Mr Brennan told the court it would be wrong to portray Ader as unthreatening. “He was the one who was threatening, making ransom demands and threatening our lives.”
With the kidnappers initially demanding $2.5 million, Ms Lindhout, whose mother earned minimum wage and father was on a disability payment, said they might as well just kill her there and then.
“Are you ready to die?’’ Ader is alleged to have replied. The trial continues next week.