Kidnapped Greek tycoon released unharmed

Jan. 20, 2009 at 10:41 AM
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ATHENS, Greece, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A 74-year-old Greek shipping tycoon is in good condition after being freed by kidnappers following payment of an estimated $39 million ransom, officials say.

Pericles Panagopoulos was freed Tuesday, eight days after he was abducted. He was found by a passing police car near the industrial district of Aspropyrgos, just west of Athens, The Times of London reported.

Despite chronic diabetes and a serious heart condition, Panagopoulos is in good shape and was getting ready to debrief police, the newspaper said. Family sources told The Times that $39 million was the likely ransom amount, although media accounts have differed. The kidnappers initially demanded $52 million when Panagopoulos was kidnapped at gunpoint outside his home on Jan. 12.

The Times said it appears that the passenger ferry magnate's wife, Katerina, played a big role in contacting the kidnappers and negotiating the demanded ransom. She had also warned the Greek media against complicating her husband's fate by needless speculation on the air, the newspaper said.

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