Kenya rebuffs Italy's aid offer in Romano kidnapping case

Silvia Romano was kidnapped in November 2018 and has not been heard from since

ROME - Kenya has repeatedly ignored requests by the Italian government to assist in the search for Silvia Romano, kidnapped last year, as tensions between the two nations continue to grow, judicial sources said.

 Romano, a 23-year-old volunteer aid worker working for Africa Milele Onlus, was abucted from gunmen from the village of Chakama, 80 kilometres from Malindi on 20 November 2018 and has not been heard from since, according to the sources quoted by Il Messaggero. 

 It was revealed in December by Kenyan Costa Regional Police Commander Noah Mwivanda that she was still thought to be alive and in the country. This was followed by flurry of arrests that raised hopes she would swiftly be found.

 Kenyan Chief of Police Joseph Boinnet at the time stated: “We are optimistic about our chances of finding the woman very soon.”

 However, since then, investigations into her disappearance seem to have stalled and Italian attempts to aid the search have been ignored.

 The Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office have more than once asked Kenyan authorities to share information on the case and testimonies given by those arrested.

 They have asked for a greater collaboration, and while there are no agreements on cooperation between the nations, it is seen as an international courtesy.

 Interpol have also offered to send Italian investigators to Kenya in an attempt to locate Romano.

 Both proposals have thus far been met with silence and no more news has come of investigations, however Italian authorities will continue to work on the matter.

 Judicial sources noted that the move by the Italian government to offer their own services and resources abroad is an indicator of their commitment to the case given how rarely it occurs.

 Prime minister Giuseppe Conte spoke out this week on the case, saying: “We are following the case through discrete channels… I can reveal that there was a moment in which I was confident that we were close to a positive result.

 “The criminal organisations were identified, but we have not yet been able to tackle the situation and achieve the result that we have been working on for months.”

 The current search radius is thought to be some 40,000 square kilometres and hopes of her safe return continue to diminish.