Updated 2.25pm with arraignments
Three men were arraigned in court on Saturday on charges of kidnapping a 30-year-old and tying him to a tree in an attempt to extort money from him.
Peter Tupta, 49, Anton Triscik, 47, and Adam Mazurkovic, 22 denied charges of kidnapping their victim, using violence against him and other crimes.
The three suspects, who are all Slovak nationals, were caught after their alleged victim managed to escape their clutches and call for help.
The incident began on Wednesday evening when three men approached the victim, who is also from Slovakia, on Triq is-Salib in Mellieħa, bundled him into a car and tied his hands together.
From there, they took him to the Aħrax tat-Tunnara woodland area where they allegedly tied him to a tree and stripped his clothes off, threatening him with a knife and beating him as they demanded money.
Police said the aggressors eventually put the victim back in their car and drove him to a hotel in Sliema, where they held him against his will overnight.
The criminal plan fell apart when the victim escaped the following afternoon, as the aggressors were preparing to move him to a different location. People in a shop nearby heard his cries for help and called the police.
Rapid Intervention Unit officers quickly reached the scene and arrested the three suspects. In a statement on Saturday, the police said the suspects were caught with items belonging to the victim and that officers had also identified the car used in the alleged kidnapping.
Magistrate Joe Mifsud warned the accused that it was not acceptable for disputes in other countries to spill over into Malta.
Inspectors Ryan Mario Vella and Jessica Bezzina are leading the prosecution.
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