Principal safe after kidnap

A convict on furlough held the principal of Thessaloniki’s German School hostage for several hours yesterday before releasing him unharmed and returning to jail. Constantinos Arabatzis was on a 10-day release from Cassavetia jail in northern Greece, where since 1998 he had been serving the remaining years of a 22-year jail sentence he received in Germany for kidnapping. Arabatzis abducted the principal, Joachim Voegeding, and Greek administrator Xenophon Altidis, possibly threatening them with a gun or explosives, at 11 a.m. They drove off in a car but Arabatzis stopped some two kilometers from the school on the city’s outskirts and continued on foot with Voegeding, leaving Altidis in the car as a massive hunt was launched by police. Some six hours later the school master walked into a taverna in western Thessaloniki and asked to call the police. He had not been harmed. Arabatzis returned to prison of his own accord. It was not immediately clear why he had abducted the men.