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May 31, 2007

Aikman returns home; yet to speak with the press

Story PictureDerek Aikman has been released from the hospital and returned to his home. Aikman, who went missing for two days in what appears to be a bizarre kidnapping, was found Tuesday night on the Western Highway bound, gagged, and blindfolded with duct tape. Today I visited him at his residence on the Boom Road and found the former government minister in good spirits. He agreed to an on-camera interview, but after he returned he had a change of heart, stating that his daughter reminded him that he had one more statement to give the police. Aikman made a phone call to the police department and was told not to talk to the media at this time. With that, he took my phone number and promised to call. We’re still waiting, but police officers working on the case told us today that while they had one more statement to receive they had pretty much gotten all the information they need from Aikman and are aggressively investigating the incident. While that investigation is looking at, quote, “all angles”, a sceptical press corps is anxiously awaiting a chance to do some questioning of its own. Aikman’s history as a public figure has typecast him as a flamboyant showman with a canny eye for the spotlight. The lack of any apparent motive for the abduction has led to rampant speculation that the kidnapping was self-inflicted as part of an elaborate publicity stunt. But why would Aikman go to such lengths for publicity, particularly when he was already inching back into the limelight by organising a successful mock referendum on the U.H.S. guarantee and launching a new political group call the Belize Covenant Movement?

One theory is that the kidnapping would create high profile sympathy in preparation for an independent run for a seat in the House of Representatives. Another variation on that theme is that Aikman, said to be in dire financial straits and once again staring bankruptcy in the face, arranged the kidnapping as a way to keep his creditors at bay, in the belief that no one would dare make a move against such a heroic and sympathetic figure. Of course, those are just the cynical theories of sceptical pundits. The problem with their view is that the alternative: to accept the victim’s account as true, forces us to admit that in once peaceful Belize, no longer can anyone be considered safe … and that is indeed a frightening thought for all of us.

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