Sydney couple face Kenya kidnap charges

Associated Press in The Age (Australia)/August 11, 2005

A Sydney couple detained in Kenya on kidnapping charges face seven years in jail if found guilty of what they say are trumped-up charges.

Kenyan police accuse husband and wife Christian missionaries Roland and Susan Gianstefani of holding a mother and her seven-year-old son against their will.

The mother, Betty Njoroge, says the allegations are untrue, the Seven Network reported.

"The claims made against the Jesus Christians are mere slander," Ms Njoroge said in a video broadcast by Seven.

The Gianstefanis say they face a long prison sentence if found guilty by the Kenyan courts.

"If we're convicted (we could face) a seven-year jail sentence," Mrs Gianstefani told the station.

"So it's quite serious in a Kenyan jail."

The Australian couple, who are members of international cult The Jesus Christians, have vigorously denied the allegations.

"We've never forcibly detained or secretly held her against her will or forced her to do anything against her will," Mrs Gianstefani said.

"How are we dangerous? What is it we're doing that's dangerous?"

Mr Gianstefani, was arrested in Nairobi on June 17 and spent 25 days in custody before both he and his wife were charged.

The Australian High Commission said it was helping where possible, but could not interfere in the legal processes of another nation.

It is not the first time the couple have been charged with kidnapping, Seven reported.

Five years ago in London they were accused of kidnapping and brainwashing a 16-year-old boy, but the charges were eventually dropped.

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