Judith Tebbutt was clad in Islamic garments by pirates during her odeal
Monday, July 01, 2013
A British woman has told of her hell at the hands of Somali pirates
who shot dead her husband, dressed her in a burqa and held her to ransom
for six months.
Judith Tebbutt's life was turned upside down when a gang of
gun-toting pirates from Somalia crashed in on a dream holiday with her
husband David, in a remote resort in Kenya, in 2011.
The diminutive former social worker, 58, was hauled out of bed in a
night-time raid and taken by boat to the failed state, which borders
Kenya on the horn of Africa.
There she was kept in filthy conditions in a string of boltholes
teeming with ants and other bugs. The Hertfordshire resident was reduced
to urinating wherever she could, while bandits extorted a ransom from
her family in Britain.
She said she suffered a mental collapse and had to struggle to keep her sanity in the face of daily uncertainity.
"In my head I saw them shoving me against a wall, pushing me
blindfolded in to the dirt," she said. "I heard a rifle cocked and fired
at me, point blank - the end of everything. I hugged my knees as the
darkness came down."
How much her family had to raise to secure her freedom is
secret, but the going rate for a westerner is reportedly $1.3m
It was during negotiations to free her that she received the
bombshell news that her husband David - a finance director at publisher
Faber and Faber - had been shot dead during the kidnap.
Her 25-year-old son Ollie broke the news by phone when she was surrounded by the kidnappers.
She said: "In my head, in my heart, it was as if a clock had stopped.
No, Ollie simply couldn't mean what he seemed to be meaning.
"I looked around the room and I jabbed a finger from one face to the
next. 'You, you and you - all of you, you killed my husband. My husband
is dead because of all of you.'"
Months later, the leader of the pirates attempted to say sorry, Tebbutt said.
Entering the squalid room in which he was holding her, he "cupped
both my hands between his big plate-like palms and shook them gently. As
he did so, he bowed his head."
Tebbutt's tale is told in full in her new book, A Long Walk Home.