The horror of British model Chloe Ayling’s July kidnapping was dutifully detailed in the media, with motion picture-style reports of an organized group called "Black Death" -- but the whole ordeal was “a sham," the lawyer of an alleged kidnapper said in court Monday.
The "sham" accusation came out as Michal Herba, who is accused of helping to orchestrate a fake photoshoot to lure the 20-year-old model to Milan, fought extradition orders at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday, Sky News reported. His brother, Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, was also arrested and charged with the kidnapping of Ayling for extortion.
George Hepburne Scott, Herba's lawyer, told a judge he questioned the legitimacy of Ayling’s story.
"There is a real risk that the entire case is a sham,” Scott said. "The same complainant, it seems, generated publicity from the fact she was nearby the scene of a terrorist attack at the Champs-Elysees in Paris.”
Scott mentioned an alleged press release that Lukasz Pawel Herba released to a tabloid newspaper which detailed Ayling's saga of nearly being sold on the dark web. He also said a supposed shopping trip Ayling took during the alleged kidnapping was a “wholly anomalous feature of a hostage situation.”
"It would amount to an abuse of process of the court if there was any evidence to suggest this was a publicity stunt,” Scott said, adding the number of odd facts in the case could show the Italian authorities were “duped.”
“And that [the Italian police] process has been abused,” the lawyer said.
But Judge Paul Goldspring wasn't so easily convinced.
"Some believe it to be a sham," Goldspring said in court. "This material doesn't prove that.”
He is expected to rule on the case Friday.
The model has maintained her kidnapping was real, discussing the “terrifying experience” on Britain’s “This Morning” in August. She said she feared she would be killed and prayed for a “non-painful death.” Ayling described being drugged, stuffed into a suitcase, transported to an isolated farmhouse and held for almost a week. The kidnappers allegedly threatened to advertise her as a sex slave on the criminal “dark web” or hold her for ransom.
"It is really hurtful to see people doubt my story. Like when I went shoe shopping apparently, which was to the camping shop to get shoes for the consulate, people were saying why didn't I run?” she said in her television interview.
Her kidnapping ordeal ended when they dropped her off at the British consulate in Milan. Lukasz Herba was arrested the next day.
Ayling blamed her former agent for the kidnapping. The captors tried to extort more than $350,000 from the agent.
Ayling also announced she will be writing a book to "expose every little detail for the first time." The book, titled "Six Days," is expected to be released in Spring 2018.