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The Kidnappers Contacted Prima TV before the H Hour

27 Apr 2005 - 00:00

Dan Dumitru, the news director from Prima TV, has been phone called from a number from Iraq and received a new message from the kidnappers. The recorded conversation went to the Presidency. The three journalists are desperately calling for their freedom. Jurnalul National will show you the message of the journalists.

  • Click for listening to the audio recording of the message

    "Our lives are in your hands"

    DESPAIR. The last hope of our journalists is the solidarity of all the Romanians.
    Yesterday, Dan Dumitru, the news director at Prima TV, has been phone called from a number from Iraq and received a new message from the kidnappers. The conversation, the second phone call respectively has been recorded and sent to the presidency. Before going to the meeting of the crisis cell, Dan Dumitru handed a copy of the cassette to the journalists that were waiting at the entrance. We present the contents of the message received yesterday by Prima TV.

    THE MESSAGE. Each of the three journalists introduces himself saying his name, followed by the mass-media institution, and the voices that are heard are, in this order, Marie-Jeanne Ion’s, Sorin Miscoci’s and Ovidiu Ohanesian’s.

    "My name is Marie-Jeanne Ion, I am from the Romanian TV station Prima TV in Bucharest. This message targets especially the TV station I work for and I ask you to broadcast it. At present the Romanian President is negotiating with the kidnappers, but the Romanian officials don’t agree with the requests made. So, I am asking you, the Romanian people, to help us, to save our lives. And I ask you to publicly demonstrate, to put pressure on the officials, such that they will respond to the requests".

    "My name is Sorin Miscoci, I am a cameraman at Prima TV in Bucharest. I ask you, Mr. President, Romanian people and my family, to save us. The kidnappers told me I would be the first to be killed. Please, Romanian people put the authorities under pressure for them to withdraw the troops from Iraq to save us. Please!"

    "My name is Eduard Ovidiu Ohanesian (he is crying), I am a journalist for the Romania Libera newspaper. Please, Romanian people (he is crying louder and louder), please, my family, please, Government and Mr. President, save us, don’t let them kill us. I am sorry. Our lives are in your hands".

    Dan Dumitru tries to ask "so that’s …", but the conversation ends.

    DAN DUMITRU’S STATEMENT. In Cotroceni, the director of the News Department from Prima TV, Dan Dumitru, said that: "I will not answer to any questions. This is not the time nor the situation for me to answer your questions. All I can tell you is that approximately three hours ago I received a phone call from an Iraqi phone number, I answered, I discussed, I understood that was the man in charge to send a message from our colleagues kidnapped in Iraq and, a few minutes later, that message came. It was generally saying the same thing as the last message seen at Al-Jazeera.

    It was a call made by each of the three journalists to the public opinion, the civil society for determining the authorities to take a decision. I am sincerely telling you that, from my point of view, this message was a relief. It proves that there is communication with the kidnappers, it proves they are interested in negotiating and, at present, they are trying to speculate anything they can, such that the negotiations would easily go their way".

    The Parents’ Pain and Waiting

    Since Friday night, since they saw their children at Al-Jazeera TV station begging with tears in their eyes for their lives, the parents of Marie-Jeanne Ion and Sorin Miscoci are in the streets. They are waiting for information, for a sign of hope… Yesterday at noon, the relatives of the four Romanians in Iraq also came into the University Plaza to join the people that were demonstrating for solidarity. Wrecked, powerless to say anything, the parents of the Romanian journalists were waiting, like all the other people in there. At one o’clock in the afternoon, they have been announced that they will be welcomed at Cotroceni by Presidential Counselor Claudia Saftoiu and they left there in a hurry. There were only few hours to the deadline of the ultimatum…After arriving at the Presidency, they have been let to wait for the conclusions of the crisis cell, urgently formed at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The Foreign Affairs Minister, Razvan Ungureanu, who arrived the last in the Cotroceni Palace, stepped down his car running, not to be late for the discussions. Were there any news? Were there any good news? No clues. For about an hour, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Vasile Ion, the father of Marie-Jeanne Ion, was sitting in the hallway right in front of the room in which the crisis cell was talking about the fate of his daughter. Mari-Jeanne’s mother was walking on the hallway reading a prayers’ book. Her steps and her soul are hardly bearing the long and tormenting abeyance. However, at a certain time, her husband had been urgently called inside, and she impatiently closed the book she used to read in the latest minutes. Dan Dumitru, the news director from Prima TV, entered in the yard of the Cotroceni Palace with a precipitated face.

    A NEW MESSAGE. He gave the journalists a copy of the tape with the last message from the kidnapped journalists. The message was bringing good information: the extension with a day of the deadline for the Romanian authorities to withdraw the military troops from Iraq, but also bad news: the fact that they will kill them successively if the request is not fulfilled.

    Dan Dumitru didn’t say whether the recorded phone call was a conversation with the three journalists or a received recording.

    "We Are Not Here for Politics"

    CLOSE. Support from the Royal Family as well.
    Yesterday, inn the longest day of the kidnappers’ ultimatum, simple people and journalists also came in the University Plaza to show their solidarity with the three kidnapped journalists.

    Ion Solcanu was one of the first politicians that came in the University Plaza to make common cause with the families and colleagues of the three journalists. He was barely holding a poster in his hand and, from time to time, he was quietly talking on his sophisticated phone, very good for calling Baghdad. Near him, there was Ilie Sarbu, who didn’t want to hear the suburb words of the passers regarding his daughter. Ion Vasile, Marie-Jeanne’s father, was the only member in the group of the relatives of the kidnapped that joined the politicians.

    Among the journalists, an anonymous singer in the streets was enjoying his 15 minutes of fame: "Faith is the space that separates the Christian Bucharest from the Muslim Baghdad", he was rattling his guitar without too much passion or talent. The rain stew away the 300 hundred supporters in the Plaza, but not before listening to the predictable speech of the newly elected SDP (the Social Democratic Party) president, Mircea Geaona. The diplomat tried to blend in the quiet crowd, but the inquisitives didn’t let him and after giving a few interviews, Geoana disappeared, and this gave the other social-democrat leaders a chance. "We are not here for politics…because my son is there and he didn’t steal, he didn’t hurt anyone", Ovidiu Ohanesian’s mother complaining, while some close friends tries to calm her. Angry at the fact that the political speeches have become the main target of the journalists, the families of the three went to Cotroceni hoping to get new and hopeful information from there.

    ROYAL SUPPORT. The former king of Romania, Mihai I, also stated his support for the three yesterday. He stated he was close to the families of the Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq and expressed his hope that the situation would have a happy end. King Mihai visited the Art University together with Quinn Ana, Princess Maragareta and Prince Radu (By Lucian Florea, Doru Cobuz)

    Translated By SORIN BALAN
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