Hostage situation in Vallecas, Madrid

A 49-YEAR-OLD man who took two hostages in a Vallecas (Madrid) bar released them four hours later.

The hostages were the bar-owner Tomas Carmona and a friend Elias.  Their captor was identified as J.C.A.L., jobless and in treatment for depression.

J.C.A.L. went into the bar shortly before 7pm on July 16 and ordered a beer.  He paid with a €10 note before asking for another, said Tomas’s wife, Paqui, and then went to the toilets. Paqui left, so was not present when the hostage-taker hit her husband with the butt of a starting pistol and threatened him with knife.  Elias showed him where the till was and said he could take what he wanted, but the abductor refused.  He did not want money, he said.

At this point, Tomas’s 18-year-old son nearly walked in but Tomas and Elias shouted out to him and told not to go in but to call the police. But J.C.A.L. himself told Tomas to ring 091 and soon the working class suburb was crawling with special operations police who advised neighbours to stay indoors.

J.C.A.L. did not speak directly to the police, but used Tomas as a go-between to convey demands for a Porsche Cayenne with a full tank, a sheet to cover himself with as he left the bar, a bullet-proof vest, a helmet and latex gloves. 

The first direct contact between the kidnapper and police came at around 10.30pm when he told them he wanted to give himself up.  Shortly afterwards the two hostages left the bar, followed by J.C.A.L. who removed his shirt to prove he was unarmed.

It was a textbook operation, police negotiators said later, but they declined to give details of the arguments used to persuade J.C.A.L. to release his hostages. He was not drunk or drugged, they confirmed, although he told them he was being treated for depression and was unemployed.  He had wanted to draw attention to his “desperate” situation, they said.

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