Source AP ©

Another kidnapping trial in Nigeria

Five Nigerian men were charged with the kidnapping. Their captive, a British oil worker, was rescued during a military raid in the troubled southern oil region.

Kidnappings are epidemic in southern Nigeria, but prosecution of alleged hostage takers are rare.

The suspects, brought to court in handcuffs in the oil industry center of Port Harcourt, were charged with kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment in connection with the abduction of David Ward, an employee of oil services company, Hydrodive, seized on his way to work on Aug. 10.

No pleas were taken during the brief appearance and presiding Judge Roseline Nwodo returned the accused to prison until proceedings resume Wednesday. The suspects face more than seven years in jail each if convicted.

Nigerian troops freed Ward during a dawn raid on Friday in Abaara Etche village, 30 kilometers (20 miles) west of Port Harcourt. The suspects were arrested during the raid, military officials said.

More than 200 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta since attacks targeting the oil industry surged in late 2005. The attacks are the work of militants campaigning for more local control of oil revenues by the region's impoverished inhabitants and criminal gangs kidnapping for ransom.