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Sunday, September 27, 1998 Published at 08:16 GMT 09:16 UK


Hostages' torture ordeal

Before their ordeal: Jon James and Camilla Carr

The British aid workers held hostage in Chechnya for nearly 15 months have spoken of their treatment at the hands of their captors.

Camilla Carr, aged 40, told the Mail on Sunday she was repeatedly raped by a masked guard while her partner, Jon James, 38, was chained to a radiator in a nearby room.

The former hostages told their story in an interview with The Mail on Sunday
The couple also described how they were tortured and Mr James was threatened with having his fingers cut off and being thrown into a cage with poisonous spiders.

[ image: The couple say they have forgiven their captors]
The couple say they have forgiven their captors
Interrogations took place where Mr James was beaten and Ms Carr was held at knife-point.

Ms Carr said the sexual assaults went on over several months, until she managed to befriend the rapist and he apologised to her.

She said: "The first time I tried to resist. I said 'No, no,' but he started hitting me around the face and neck.

"I thought I had to go through with it, but it would not be me he was raping, he could not touch my spirit.

[ image: They had gone to help children traumatised by the war in the breakaway Russian republic]
They had gone to help children traumatised by the war in the breakaway Russian republic
"Afterwards I went back to Jon and he knew. He was aware of what was going on but he was completely calm and just looked after me.

"And I believe that when the guard got to know us as people he realised it was wrong to rape me. It stopped and he apologised to me."

The couple described how on another occasion they were forced up against the wall of their cell and they heard a rifle bolt being pulled back.

They were later told it had been a 'joke' and no execution had been planned.

But they say that through the nightmare months, the constant fear, and continual disappointments when they believed they were going to be released, they grew stronger as a partnership.

[ image: A video of the couple was released by their captors]
A video of the couple was released by their captors
The pair, who are both divorced, and each have a son from their former marriages, told the newspaper that they had now forgiven their captors.

After 443 days in captivity - which began in July last year two months after they had arrived in the beleaguered capital of Grozny to run a children's refuge - they say their relationship has "found new depths".

"We were so lucky," says Ms Carr. "We were together, so we could comfort each other spiritually and physically. We were in love.

"We had been a couple for two years and were very close, but our relationship matured and we found new depths."

The pair were released on 15 September following the intervention of Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky.

Ms Carr is the world's longest-held female hostage.

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