Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela: Basketball star Manaure 'confirms' son kidnapped

A basketball hoop and ball Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Juan Manaure is a successful basketball player in Venezuela

Venezuelan basketball player Juan Manaure has appeared to confirm reports that his son Derek has been kidnapped.

Mr Manaure said on Twitter that reports the boy had died were false, adding that "God will allow him to soon". He gave no further details on the kidnapping.

Derek's age has not been revealed.

Local media first reported the kidnapping at the end of December but Mr Manaure only addressed the reports directly on Tuesday.

He wrote: "I await with much anxiety and hope the return of my son Derek 'safe and sound'. Son, here I am waiting for you. May God protect you and bless you.

And in another tweet: "Talk of the death of my son Derek is only a rumour. God will allow him to soon return to his family. I trust in you, God."

There has been no official statement on the kidnapping and it is not clear if Mr Manaure has reported it to the police or if a ransom demand has been made.

Mr Manaure, who plays for Cangrejeros de Monagas in Venezuela's national basketball league, first hinted on 30 December on Twitter that something had happened to his son.

He wrote: "I put my son in the hands of God, hoping that he will soon be at my side because I believe that God will protect you and protect you from all evil."

Following reports that his son had died and subsequent messages of condolences from former and current teammates, Mr Manaure tweeted again on Tuesday.

Mr Manaure is a native of Caracas. He recently bagan a career outside of basketball as a reggaeton singer.

Venezuelan sports stars have been targeted by kidnappers in the past. In 2011, Venezuelan-born US Major League baseball player Wilson Ramos was kidnapped by armed men in the city of Valencia. He was rescued two days later by the security forces.

There are no official statistics about the overall number of kidnappings in the country, but a study based on anecdotal evidence and perceptions of security among Venezuelans suggests a steep rise in the first half of 2016 as Venezuela's economic crisis deepened.

According to the study, by the Institute of Criminal Science and Criminology at the University of Santa Maria in Caracas, almost all kidnappings go unreported and most of them end in fewer than 24 hours, after a ransom is paid.

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