Mystery surrounds death of Spanish embassy officer

SPANISH policeman Antonio Cejudo Ballesteros was found dead on the outskirts of Sana’a, Yemen.

Due to return to Spain for a holiday, he took a taxi instead of an official vehicle in the capital, Sana’a, but did not arrive at the airport.

Cejudo, aged 38, was a member of the security team attached to the Spanish embassy where he was posted two years ago.

A Policia Nacional officer for six-and-a-half years, he was previously attached to the Riot Squad in Granada and later Madrid.

Antonio Cejudo’s brother Javier, who works in Seron, Almeria, expected to see him in Madrid last Friday but waited in vain that night and the following morning.

Unable to reach Antonio on his mobile, he contacted the Yemen embassy on May 18 for news.

He learnt that his brother had not been seen since Thursday and no-one could locate him. He wrote on his blog that he was living “the worst day” of his life.

The signal from Antonio’s phone stopped sometime between the Friday night and Saturday morning.

Initial reports that he was held hostage by Al Qaeda were “premature” said Javier Cejudo.

Kidnappings of foreigners, both by Islamist activists and tribal groups have increased in recent months, but Yemen intelligence sources also doubted that Cejudo was abducted.

No group has so far claimed responsibility, pointed out a general who asked to remain anonymous, and there had been no ransom demands.

With kidnappings, these are usually received within hours, he said.

The Embassy in Sana’a is working with Spain’s Foreign and Interior ministries to clarify Cejudo’s death.

“We are following this case very closely,” said Interior minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.

“We do have information, but are not in a position to reveal it,” he added. Antonio Cejudo was suffering from an incurable disease, according to sources quoted by ABC newspaper, and was “feeling very low.”

He had also taken a pistol from the embassy before leaving last Thursday, the same sources claimed.

By Linda Hall

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