Kidnappers free Greek shipping magnate

Kidnappers freed Greek shipping magnate Pericles Panagopoulos from a week of captivity after a ransom payment by his family, police said.

Kidnappers free Greek shipping magnate

Kidnappers freed Greek shipping magnate Pericles Panagopoulos from a week of captivity on Tuesday after a ransom payment by his family, police said.

The 74-year-old founder of Greek ferry operator Superfast Ferries was snatched in broad daylight by three armed men in Athens's coastal suburb of Kavouri on Jan 12, in Greece's third high-profile abduction since June.

The kidnapping occurred amid the suspected re-emergence of the left-wing Revolutionary Struggle guerrilla group, but police said it was believed to be the work of a criminal gang.

"The police picked up Mr. Panagopoulos at about 1.30 this morning after being informed of his whereabouts," said a police official, declining to be named. Panagopoulos was found in the town of Aspropyrgos, about 20 km (12 miles) west of Athens.

"The kidnappers called his wife and told her of his location, and she then called us. He is being taken to hospital to undergo health checks," said the police official.

No details of the ransom figure were given but police sources said the payment was handed over by Panagopoulos's wife and driver.

When Panagopoulos was abducted, the driver was left tied to a tree but managed to free himself and informed police. A blaze damaged car and van found later in northeast Athens were believed to have belonged to the abductors.

Superfast Ferries, which operates routes mainly between Greece and Italy, is a subsidiary of Greece's largest ferry operator Attica Holdings. Panagopoulos sold his entire stake to Marfin Investment Group in 2007.

In June, George Milonas, chief executive of aluminium company Alumil and chairman of the Federation of Industries in the northern city of Thessaloniki, was kidnapped. He was released two weeks later after a ransom was paid.

Police arrested Greece's most wanted fugitive Vassilis Palaiokostas in August in connection with Milonas's kidnapping. A well-known Athens doctor was kidnapped last month but has yet to be found. Police are investigating links between that crime and Panagopoulos's abduction.

In December, Greece was rocked by the worst street violence in decades after police shot dead a teenager. A policeman was seriously wounded more than 10 days ago in an attack which Revolutionary Struggle claimed responsibility for.

Reuters
Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2009, 13:56
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