Shipping director tells of kidnap terror


A MEMBER of a Greek ship owning family yesterday described a terrifying 10 day kidnap ordeal in which he was held blindfolded in a cupboard in London.

On March 24th Mr George Fraghistas was picked up off the street near his Maida Vale home by an armed gang who then demanded £5 million ransom from his family.

He spoke yesterday as Scotland Yard announced the successful end of a "massive surveillance and covert operation" which led to the freeing of the shipping agent and the arrest of four men.

Mr Fraghistas (43), a single man, thanked the police, and said he was "still in shock", a day after officers burst into the flat which had become his prison.

Two of those arrested were Greek and the other two were French or perhaps French Algerian, a Scotland Yard spokesman said. "This was clearly a specifically targeted and carefully orchestrated kidnap," he added.

The kidnap was staged on the evening of Sunday, March 24th as Mr Fraghistas walked along a street near his home in Maida Vale. He was approached by four men who bundled him into the boot of a car at gunpoint.

He was immediately handcuffed and his mouth taped. He was taken to a mews house in Paddington, which the suspects had rented, police believe, especially for the crime.

"His mouth was initially gagged with tape and he was forced to use ear plugs to block his ears. The victim was kept in this state of sensory deprivation and locked in a cupboard for nine days. He was also made to take tranquillising drugs," the spokesman said.

The cupboard was a walk in, measuring 6ft by 3ft with a chair.

About 36 hours after the kidnap, the abductors made their first contact with the family, in both London and Greece. Without the gang knowing, the police were called in.

Four men are to appear at Horseferry Road magistrates court, London, today charged with kidnap, blackmail and false imprisonment.