Sudan, the Venetian businessman Marco Zennaro hostage to a “strong man” – Corriere.it

by time news

Ten weeks under arrest, of which the last eight in a suffocating cell, at 45 degrees, with thirty other inmates who speak only Arabic, a shared toilet and not even a cot. And it’s not over yet for Marco Zennaro, the Venetian entrepreneur who was imprisoned in Sudan where he went in mid-March to solve a commercial problem that seemed to have ended with the payment of 400,000 euros. Instead it was the beginning of the worst. To unravel the problem, the Farnesina decided to send Luigi Vignali to Khartoum the day after tomorrow., general manager for Italians abroad and for migration policies.

The story took a bad turn on April 1, when Marco Zennaro, 46, sole administrator of Zennaro Trafo, a small Venetian factory, was boarding the Egyptair MS 856 flight departing from the Sudanese capital at 7:30 pm. home after two nightmare weeks. He had landed in Khartoum to settle an unusual dispute with his distributor in the city over a batch of electrical transformers, which was deemed not to comply with the contract. But at the Hotel Corinthia Zennaro he had found some militiamen waiting for him and an atmosphere that was anything but conciliatory. His passport was requisitioned and a fraud report was served on him.


For Zennaro it had been a shock: before him, his father and grandfather had had impeccable commercial relations with Sudan, indeed, “with half Africa and the whole Middle East, for 25 years – testifies his younger brother, Alvise from Venice. -. Thanks to the intervention of the Italian embassy, ​​Marco was initially able to wait for developments in the hotel, albeit guarded by armed men ». The disputed transformers were destined for Sedec, the Sudanese national electricity company. But laboratory analyzes of a local company in the sector (therefore a potential competitor) had rejected the Italian product. Therefore, immediate reimbursement was required, without returning the goods and without counter-reports by independent technicians. The negotiations were conducted, always under armed surveillance, with the son of the owner of the distribution company, Ayman Gallabi, who speaks English. He spoke. His body was fished out of the Nile on Saturday.

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But on April 1, when Gallabi had already collected the money and withdrew the complaint, the militiamen blocked the way to the entrepreneur, whom Ambassador Gianluigi Vassallo had accompanied to the airport. The transaction did not satisfy Abdallah Esa Yousif Ahamed, financier of the Gallabi Company and military close to General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, vice president of the Sovereign Council that leads the country after the coup of 2019. “Abdallah Ahamed claims another 700 thousand euros, but Marco Zennaro has never had any commercial relationship with him »explains the family’s lawyer in Venice, Aldo Silanos. The only interlocutor was that Gallabi found in the Nile.

“In almost two months of detention in the security room of a police station, the treatment has become increasingly harsh,” his brother Alvise is distressed. Amid threatening allusions from the guards, “Regeni, Regeni, pay!”, And the risk of infections. “When he had a fever he was taken to hospital and immediately sent back – adds the lawyer Silanos -. The embassy staff are allowed to visit it twice a week ”. Three days ago the Attorney General accepted the appeal of the defense lawyer, Ayman Khaled, and ordered the immediate release of the entrepreneur. But while a police car took him to sign the release documents, a phone call from above ordered the agents to turn around: Zennaro went back to crouch on the floor of a hot room. “This is no longer a commercial dispute, it is now a political case,” says the deputy Nicola Pellicani who has been following the story since early May. Luigi Vignali’s journey seems to confirm this. (Farid Adly collaborated)

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May 28, 2021 (change May 28, 2021 | 22:27)

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