The Norwegian company accused of running a "child kidnapping and human trafficking gang" in Italy has accused police in Palermo, Sicily, of deliberately seeking to smear it with false allegations.
"These allegations were made by the Palermo police with the sole purpose of harming ABP World Group," ABP World Group said in a press release on Monday night.
The company, which describes itself as a "child recovery" specialist, said that it always followed local and international laws, never used firearms, and only worked for parents who had been awarded sole custody of their children.
Martin Waage, CEO and founder of ABP World Group, said: “We are a serious company working with legal child recoveries. We never use weapons – that would mean that the situation was already too dangerous for the child involved."
The company said that two of its employees have now spent a year in jail in Tunisia without trial.
"They have been falsely accused by Tunisian police of a 'potential kidnapping', when in fact they were hired as a security detail to a woman who was due in court for a custody trial," it said.
"As of today, the mother has been given sole custody of the child by Tunisian court as well, but is still held against her will in Tunisia and hasn’t got her child returned which is a gross violation of the mother´s rights."
Sicilian police announced last week that they had arrested four people connected with the company, including Larysa Moskalenko, a Ukrainian former Olympic sailing champion, who is accused of hiring our speedboats to the alleged kidnappers.
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Sicilian police said that the company employed “contractors, for the most part veterans of special corps from the armed forces, ready to offer their operational skills to whoever was willing to pay them handsomely enough."
It accused them of using weapons, such as taser guns and pepper spray during their operations.