PANAMA CITY, Panama – A Cuban-American businessman on the board of an influential anti-Castro organization has been kidnapped in Panama, officials said Wednesday.
The attorney general's office said three police officers have been arrested in connection with the abduction of Cecilio Padron, and authorities are searching for two other suspects. The officers face charges of depriving someone of their freedom, a less serious charge than kidnapping because no ransom has been requested, officials said.
Luis Martinez, a top federal police investigator, declined to give details, saying only that Padron, 66, was kidnapped April 4. He was last seen in an exclusive residential section in Panama City, where he has lived for several years.
A police spokesman, who was not authorized to give his name, said that a Colombian reportedly was the mastermind behind the kidnapping. He would not say more and Martinez declined to comment on the nationalities of those involved.
The director of the judicial police, Ayu Prado, has said Padron's relatives told him they were contacted by his captors who indicated Padron is alive.
Padron is a director of the Cuban American National Foundation, a politically influential organization based in Florida that lobbies for U.S. pressure on the Cuban government of Fidel and Raul Castro.
"We are aware of his abduction and wish that the matter would be resolved as quickly as possible," said foundation spokeswoman Sandy Acosta Cox.