Bail set at $8 million for Cleveland kidnapper | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 09.05.2013
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Bail set at $8 million for Cleveland kidnapper

A municipal court in Ohio has set bail at $8 million for the man who allegedly held three women in captivity for a decade. The accused has been charged with rape and kidnapping.

Ariel Castro appeared before a municipal court in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday wearing a dark blue prison uniform and silently looking at the ground during the proceedings.

According to public defender Kathleen Demetz, Castro, 52, had been living in the Cleveland area for nearly four decades and was supported by unemployment payments.

"To the best of knowledge, he has no convictions for felonies or serious misdeameanors," Demetz told the judge.

Earlier this week, a call to 911 - the United States' emergency services hotline for the public - alerted authorities to a run-down house in which Castro had allegedly been holding three young women captive.

One of the kidnapped women, Amanda Berry, 27, had placed the call after making a daring escape with the help of a passerby. Authorities later discovered two other women - Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight - at the home. All three women had been missing since the early 2000s. A fourth victim was also discovered, said to be a daughter born in captivity to one of the women.

The county prosecutor described a "horrific" decade-long existence for the women based on their testimonies to the police.

"The charges against Mr. Castro are based on premeditated decisions to snatch three young women from Cleveland's South Side streets," said prosecutor Brian Murphy.

Police have found chains and ropes at Castro's home, which they have said he used to bind the women.

"And also, along with captivity, there were repeated beatings. They were bound and restrained and sexually assaulted, basically never freed to leave this residence," he said.

The presiding judge set Castro's bail at $2 million for each case. On Wednesday, he was charged on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. His brothers remain in police custody, but have not been charged due to a lack of evidence.

Castro worked previously as a school bus driver and, according to neighbors, led an inconspicuous life.

kms/hc (AP, AFP, dpa)