Released French Couple Flew to France [Archives:1999/36/Front Page]

September 6 1999

Last Friday, 3 September, the two kidnapped, then released, French couple flew to France after a frightening experience of being in captivity in the hands of a Mareb tribe for more than two weeks. The safe release of Irenee Herbert and his wife Tara was a direct result of the efforts of President Saleh to release the abducted French Couple through the mediation of the prominent Sheik Mohammed Bin Naji Al-Ghader. The demands of the tribe were mainly to provide money ($41,667), heavy agricultural equipment (tractors, etc.) and the removal of army bases from the area. The two French diplomats arrived to Sanaa last Thursday evening after two weeks of captivity in the hands of the Al Jabr tribe, in the Al-Habab area, near Mareb city. Last week, the French couple threatened to start a hunger strike in an attempt to draw more attention to their case. 
Witnesses in the tribe stated that Mrs. Herbert began breaking the glasses of the room she stayed as an indication that she felt depressed because of the closed and unfamiliar atmosphere she and her husband were held in. The two diplomats were handed to the Embassy by the Foreign Ministry on the same day of regaining their freedom. The increasing pressure on the government to do something, especially after the statement of the kidnapped saying that they will begin a hunger strike if they are not released truly paid off. Besides relieving the French officials, including the French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin who said, “thanks to all those whose efforts made this happy climax possible.” The safe release of the French also relieved Yemeni officials of this situation at a time when our country will witness its first direct presidential elections.