Amnesiac refuses to return to Czech Republic
A man claiming amnesia after being found semi-conscious in Norway four months ago refused to return to Czech Republic on Thursday despite a couple from the country claiming he is their son.
"I can't move to the Czech Republic," the man, dubbed "John Smith" because he says he cannot remember his real name, told AFP. "I'm not going to put my life in great danger so that they can ... find me there and kill me," he added, unable to explain who "they" were.
Found in the snow in the streets of Oslo in December, "John Smith" claims he cannot remember anything before waking up in hospital. He has since been temporarily housed by the Norwegian social services.
"Smith" believes he was "robbed", "sexually assaulted", "drugged", and then abandoned in Norway. He does not think he travelled there by choice.
Even though he says he does not know who could have exposed him to such actions, "Smith" fears that the same people will go after him again if he returns to the Czech Republic.
"They know my name and they know my address," he said.
He speaks excellent English with a Slavic accent and also understands Czech, Slovak, Polish and Russian.
His outlandish story has received extensive media coverage in Norway and abroad, and the Norwegian police have launched a probe to reveal his identity and determine if he has been a victim of criminal actions.
After four months of fruitless searching and only one day after publishing his picture in an appeal for public help, the Norwegian police revealed on Wednesday that a Czech couple had identified the man as their son.
"He is very likely to be a Czech national aged 36. He has been recognised by several members of the family," Czech police spokeswoman Eva Stulikova confirmed in a statement on Thursday.
"The man's disappearance was not reported in the Czech Republic. The circumstances of his presence in Norway remain unclear," she added. "Smith" first reacted cautiously to the news, but later accepted the account after learning that several sources pointed in the same direction.
"We are reasonably certain to have the right identity but we cannot obviously prove it to 100 percent until we have the confirmation from the DNA tests," said Sturla Henriksboe, from the violent and sexual crime department at the Oslo police.
Norwegian agents had not yet been able to contact the Czech couple by Thursday afternoon despite repeated attempts.
Henriksboe said that identifying the real name of "John Smith" was a "big step" in the investigation, but the alleged criminal actions that brought him to Oslo had still to be resolved.
"Smith" appeared overwhelmed by his uncertain future, and said he did not want to stay in Norway.
"They know that I'm here right now," he said. "I'm being moved around like on an ocean ... You are taken by the current and it's moving you without you moving yourself. It's taking you somewhere. I feel like that: I'm being taken somewhere, I don't know where and there's nothing I can do about it."