LONDON – A lawyer representing a suspect accused of kidnapping a British model says the entire case may have been fabricated as a publicity stunt.
The case involves British model Chloe Ayling, who said in August she had been lured to Milan for a phony photo shoot, then drugged, stuffed into a suitcase and held by criminals who offered to auction her online unless her agent payed a 300,000 euro ($355,000) ransom.
The scheme was said to have been carried out by a little-known group called "Black Death."
One suspect, 30-year-old Lukasz Herba, is in custody in Italy, having been arrested after delivering Ayling to the British Embassy on July 17, six days after she was reportedly kidnapped. He denies wrongdoing.
His brother, Michal Herba, was in Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday fighting extradition to Italy. His lawyer, George Hepburne Scott, said there were numerous problems with the case that suggest the model's claims were fabricated.
Scott said "there is a real risk that the entire case is a sham" that fooled Italian detectives.
"This case has a unique set of anomalies which might lead to the conclusion that the Italian authorities have been duped and that their process has been abused," he said.
Among the weaknesses he cited with the case was the claim that the model and her kidnapper went shoe shopping while she was being held.
A ruling on extradition is expected Friday.