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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 07:02 GMT
Kidnap victim flies home to Wales
Peter Shaw speaking on Georgian TV
Peter Shaw called his captivity "very difficult"
Kidnapped businessman Peter Shaw is in the air on his way back to Wales after spending nearly five months held captive in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.

The 57-year-old banker from Cowbridge is experiencing his first full day of freedom on Thursday morning since he was snatched by an armed gang in the capital Tbilisi back in June.

Mr Shaw has described how he fled his captors on Wednesday, apparently during a gun battle with government troops.

One kidnapper was reported to have been killed in the battle.

The south Wales businessman was apparently unhurt and a helicopter transported him from the Pankisi Gorge area to the capital Tbilisi.


For the past four months, I've been kept in a hole in the ground, tethered by the neck

Peter Shaw
Speaking on Georgian state television, looking tired and gaunt, Mr Shaw said: "I was very frightened. I didn't want to move from the bushes until I made sure that the shooting was over."

He said his captors were "brutal" and he was unable to walk very well as yet.

"For the past four months, I've been kept in a hole in the ground, tethered by the neck," he said.

"I haven't been able to walk, had neither light nor sunlight."

Mr Shaw, 57, was snatched outside his home in Tbilisi on 18 June and there have been numerous high level diplomatic efforts to secure his release.

Mr Shaw's kidnap was the top issue on the agenda at a recent meeting between Georgia's President Shevardnadze and the British Ambassador, Deborah Barnes Jones.

EU warning

The financial adviser from Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan had been living in Georgia for six years, working as a financial adviser for Agrobiznesbank.

He had been due to return home shortly after he was snatched.

The European Union had earlier warned Georgia that it may be forced to suspend aid unless the security situation for foreign aid-workers and investors improves.

The EU ultimatum came less than six months after German citizen Gunther Beuchel, a member of the European Union delegation to Tbilisi, was found dead.


It is a wonderful end to a very harrowing story

Local MP John Smith

BBC Wales' Europe Correspondent in Brussels Iolo ap Dafydd said Mr Shaw had run from the house where he had been held towards Georgian security forces.

He had then telephoned the European Union's charge d'affaires with the news of his dramatic run to freedom.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he was "delighted" at Mr Shaw's release and thanked the Georgian authorities.

Vale of Glamorgan MP John Smith had earlier met President Shevardnadze to hand over a photograph of the captive's daughter, Lisa Evans, 31, and her three young children to highlight his family's anxiety back in Wales.

"It is a wonderful end to a very harrowing story," said Mr Smith on hearing news of the release.

Good health

Mr Shaw's ex-wife Mair Shaw, from Cowbridge, told the BBC she was absolutely thrilled at the news of his release.

She said she could not believe it when he was taken and could not believe it now he was free.

Welsh Euro MP Glenys Kinnock had been due to fly to Georgia next week to try to secure Mr Shaw's release.

She said she was "delighted" at the news.

"We understand that Peter is in good health and at the moment that is all that matters, the finer details of just what happened will I am sure be revealed in due course," Mrs Kinnock said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Kidnap victim Peter Shaw
"I was tethered by the neck"
Peter Shaw explains his escape
"I thought they were going to shoot, so I dived into some bushes."
Peter Shaw's ex-wife, Mair
"It's what we have been waiting for for such a long time, and now that it's happened, we can't believe it."

More from south east Wales
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