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Trial of man charged with kidnapping British model opens in Italy

Model's kidnapping claim

MILAN -- The trial of a Polish man charged with kidnapping a British model for ransom has opened in Italy. Lukasz Pawel Herba is charged in the July kidnapping of Chloe Ayling, who police say was lured to Milan with the promise of a modeling job.

Authorities say that when Ayling showed up at a supposed photographer's studio, she was zipped inside a canvas bag and taken to a farmhouse near Turin. The 20-year-old model was held for six days before she was released at the British Consulate in Milan.

Herba maintains he is innocent.

On Wednesday, a judge denied a defense motion to compel Ayling to testify in open court. Her pre-trial testimony will be submitted instead. 

Lukasz Pawel Herba Polizia di Stato/AP

Ayling's lawyer said she didn't want to face her kidnapper.

When Ayling's story first came to light, some doubted whether it was true.

Ayling's lawyer acknowledged in August that aspects of the case seem bizarre, but he rejected suggestions by British media that his client may have colluded with her alleged kidnappers as "evil."

He said investigators, too, initially had "more than understandable doubts" about the model's story.

"It seems incredible," lawyer Francesco Pesce told the Associated Press in August. "A man kidnaps, together with others, a girl, and after a week, citing particular reasons, accompanies her inside a consulate ... (and) practically hands her over to police."

"This at first was doubted also by investigators -- but the story later turned out to be true," he added.

The trial will resume in February.

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