Video Shows Beheading of German Hostage, Philippines Says

MANILA — After years sailing the oceans, Jürgen Kantner was a German in name only. In 2009, after he and his partner, Sabine Merz, had been abducted at sea, held for 52 days in Somalia and released after a six-figure ransom was reportedly was paid, he returned there to get his boat.

“Why should I return to Germany, where I have nobody?” Mr. Kantner was quoted as saying at the time. “After 32 years on my boat, I have lost all contact” with people back home.

Still, he acknowledged that going back to Somalia was “a little bit like suicide,” and he said he prayed that he would not be taken hostage a second time.

Mr. Kantner and Ms. Merz returned to the ocean, and they eventually earned an unwanted distinction: They were abducted a second time, by members of the Abu Sayyaf militant group in November, while sailing through the southern Philippines on their 53-foot yacht, the Rockall. The yacht was found months ago with a dead woman later identified as Ms. Merz.

On Monday, the Philippine and German governments said that a man who was shown being beheaded in a video released by the militant group was the 70-year-old Mr. Kantner.

The video, which runs for less than two minutes and which was posted on various sites affiliated with Abu Sayyaf, showed Mr. Kantner, hogtied and slumped to the ground with a machete-wielding militant behind him. The bearded and disheveled hostage saysfaintly, “Now they’ll kill me.”

“We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim,” said Jesus Dureza, an adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte. “Up to the last moment, many sectors, including the armed forces of the Philippines, exhausted all efforts to save his life. We all tried our best, but to no avail.”


Jürgen Kantner in 2009.

Mustafa Abdi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


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