Sekkingstad back in Norway: – One year of terror

Kjartan Sekkingstad have press meeting at GardermoenKjartan Sekkingstad have press meeting at Gardermoen.Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix

Kjartan Sekkingstad landed on Friday morning in Norway after a year of captivity in the Philippines. The 57-year-old told about a year of hunger, misinformation from hostage takers and a close friendship with the other hostages.

The food the hostages were given in captivity by the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas consisted largely of rice, soy sauce, sugar and salt fish, he told the press after he landed at Gardermoen this Friday morning.

– In the beginning we were mostly starved. I dont know why, but we got very little food. We got enough water and drink but not enough food. We slept on the ground, said the Sotra man when he met the Norwegian press.

He and the other hostages were subjected to deliberate misinformation. Several times, such as at Christmas, they learned that they would be released and taken to different locations.

– We packed our bags and left. We walked a whole day and thought there was going to be an exchange. But it was just nonsense, told Sekkingstad.

He also says that they were informed about the proceedings and deadlines that were set, and they knew one or all could be executed but not who.

Everyday life in captivity consisted mostly of the guerrillas triying to avoid confrontations with the police and military who constantly tried to catch up with us, he said.

– There was a lot of camping in the woods. I suppose we spent a day and a half in each camp. There was a lot of walking; sometimes for hours, sometimes all night.

Sekkingstad and the other hostages, the Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and Halls Filipino girlfriend Marites Flor, became a tight group.

– We were chained together with handcuffs every evening after evening prayers. Robert and Marites were chained together, while John and I were chained together.

If someone needed the toilet, the other one had to go too.  We became a tightknit group and we took care of each other, said Sekkingstad.

Ridsel and Hall were beheaded earlier this year, whilst Flor was released. – It was a helpless feeling to see your friend go, but nothing you could do about it, he says.

Better treatment
After the presidential elections in the Philippines during the summer, where Rodrigo Duterte took power, the situation became better for the hostages, told the Norwegian.

–  We then got better treatment. The food was better. On Saturday, after ten days of waiting and waiting, they said, ‘you are being released tomorrow’.

– When it happened, I was escorted down through the woods, and we were met by other military groups. We were transported by plane to Davao, where I met the president and was taken care of by the Norwegian embassy and police staff there, said the 57-year-old.

It was Sekkingstad’s Philippine in- laws who paid most of the ransom to get him released, confirmed the Philippine peace minister Jesus Dureza to NRK this week.

Sekkingstad said at the press conference he did not know anything about the agreement made or the ransom to get him released.

Home to Sotra
Sekkingstad took the opportunity to thank everyone who have helped to get him released.

The 57-year-old, who has lived for the last 15 years in the Philippines, now travels home to his family at Sotra.

– I will ask for your understanding that I need some peace and quiet. I need time with my family to put this behind me. One year in terror has been truly a year of terror.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today




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