Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From Andrew Drummond, Bangkok,

Monday February 15 2010

The British Foreign Office has issued a diplomatic note to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs covering a letter expressing fears that an attempt made be made to abduct an 11-yr-old pupil at an international school in Bangkok.

 The move followed a complaint by John Goodman, 50, the Bangkok based ASEAN Regional Director of Ogilvy & Mather and  Asia-Pacific President  of Ogilvy Action, that British High Commission officials in Malaysia did nothing last month, after his daughter was abducted by his mother and held inside the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea in Kuala Lumpur

Mr. Goodman had won custody in the British High Court last October with the agreement of the mother, Guinean born Kaissa Traore, 40. However she ran off with her daughter during a visit to Singapore authorised by the High Court in London, and then crossed the border to Malaysia.

Mr.Goodman, from Liverpool,  flew to Kuala Lumpur on January 10th to get his daughter back.  He said he had received a letter from Kaissa Traore's London lawyer stating: ' My client will not return ***** to your client unless there is a financial settlement, and if there is no financial settlement before the end of January she will take ***** to the Republic of Guinea'.

It was followed by emails from Kaissa Traore stating: 'The new President of Guinea will inform the UK authority that any UK court is invalid.  The lawyers are colonial, support apartheid , are limited mentally, and cannot understand slavery has now become a crime'.

Mr. Goodman claimed that when he went to the British High Commission officials told him there was nothing they could do.

Mr. Goodman said he was left alone to deal with the threat that his daughter would taken to the impoverished and corrupt country and he would never see her again, unless he paid out the equivalent of US$1million.

At a meeting  on January 21 at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton Hotel overseen by the Republic of Guinea's Commercial Attaché he agreed  to pay. He put down the first US$10,000 and fled back to Bangkok with his daughter where he put her under armed guard. He does not intend to pay any more.

Speaking at his home in Thonglor, Bangkok, Mr. Goodman said: 'I regret to say the assistance I was given by the Foreign Office and its staff in Kuala Lumpur was less than useless.
'At the end of the day an 11-yr-old British girl was held for ransom in a foreign embassy against her will. The threat was that she would be taken to West Africa and never be seen again by her father and grandparents and friends unless I paid the equivalent of US$1million.
'This threat was enforced by diplomats of a West African country, which is almost a failed state, and where corruption is rife. Yet not one British diplomat was prepared to help or could make a decision.
'My lawyers had to go back to the High Court and secure an order that they did so.  But even then officials told me they could not get a letter to the Guinean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, because the Guinea Embassy fax was down.
'I wonder if these people have heard of messengers.

'My daughter has lived with me for the last six years since Kiassa and I separated.  That was the mother's wish too. My daughter has never been a citizen of Guinea. She has only been there to visit,  the last time when she was six, but then she needed a visa to do so. She has nothing in common with Guinea. She cannot speak the language.

'I believe the country does not even have an English language school. There has been rioting there and government troops have been firing on demonstrators.'

A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'Mr. Goodman has received consular assistance. We are not able to offer more detailed comment'.

Kaissa Traore said: 'It was not a kidnap. I told the father where his daughter was. I do not accept the High Court judgment. I did not go to the High Court.  The British government refused me a visa, can you imagine?  I'm a Mandingo and we are proud people and I'm the wife of a President of one of the world's foremost companies. The matter is now in the hands of the government of the Republic of Guinea. My daughter is a citizen of Guinea'.

 Traore's father, a politician, was one of the founding fathers of the troubled post French-colonial Guinea, currently run by a military junta.

Guinea, though rich in natural resources is one of the poorest countries in the world and most corrupt in Africa. It has been ruled by a series of military juntas which have been accused of committing widespread atrocities on the people.

On January On 21 January 2010 the military junta appointed Jean-Marie Dore as Prime Minister of a six-month transition government, leading up to promised elections.


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