The photo the family received as proof of life with Sebastien Charles, left, and Giovanne Gardner. –
ANGELO MARCELLE and PAULA LINDO
The families of two Toco fishermen who went missing at sea on August 27 said they have received proof of life from their kidnappers.
And they are negotiating for the safe return of Giovanne Gardner, 23, and Sebastien Charles, 27, later this week.
The two fishermen left on a fishing expedition off the northeastern coast and were expected to return the next day.
Within the first week of the men’s disappearance, Giovanne’s mother, Abigail Gardner, received reports that the men had been kidnapped by pirates and a ransom was demanded for their safe return.
“The men who took my son and the other boy (Sebastien) sent a voice note to his father on September 6 and said that they have them and they want US$5,000 (TT$34,000) if we want to see them again.” Gardener’s father lives in Tobago.
“We wanted proof that the boys were alive and the men, they speak Spanish, sent a picture of Giovanne for me. So now I know they are alive. They sent this picture last Wednesday (September 6).”
She said her family is willing to pay the ransom, but need time to get the money together.
“I just came from my cousin and everybody is willing to scrape up the money to get Giovanne back. He needs to come back home. He is not a rude boy. We still missing some money but hopefully we should get it.”
Abigail said the police came to her on August 30, took a report, and advised her that they were trying to contact the Venezuelan coast guard and the embassy.
Charles’ father, Toco seamoss vendor Barry Charles, is very hopeful for the safe return of his son.
“God is good. God is very good. I believe that everything will work out well and I would get him back. I am also looking for any little assistance that I can get. Anything will do.”