NEWS

Tycoon release due after ransom paid

The ordeal of shipping tycoon Pericles Panagopoulos, abducted by gunmen just over a week ago, was expected to come to an end late last night, following reports that the requested ransom had been handed over to the kidnappers. According to sources, the ransom was handed over to individuals representing the perpetrators in a remote location in Viotia, central Greece. There was no confirmation as to the size of the ransom, which reports had put at 40 million euros. The family of the 74-year-old founder of Greece’s largest ferry operator Attica Holdings are said to have spent the past few days scrambling to collect the ransom in used notes of denominations no bigger than 100 euros, as demanded by the perpetrators. The elderly businessman suffers from a serious health problem, which intensified efforts for his speedy release. On Saturday the tycoon’s wife, Katerina Panagopoulou, made a public appeal to the abductors to get in touch with her, or even to take her hostage in her husband’s place, after a deadline for the ransom to be paid had passed without any telephone call. «I offer myself in exchange,» she had said. The abductors reportedly sent the family a videotape a few days ago showing Panagopoulos in captivity in a bid to prove that he is not being mistreated. Police have said that they will intensify their investigation once the businessman is safely back at home. Officers are reportedly scrutinizing cell phone records to check for any calls made in the area around Panagopoulos’s home in the affluent coastal suburb of Kavouri before or after his kidnapping. According to sources, police believe that the kidnappers are professionals.