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Wednesday, 21 August, 2002, 06:40 GMT 07:40 UK
Kinnock's "strong words" over kidnap
Kidnap victim Peter Shaw
Mr Shaw was abducted at gunpoint in the street
One of Wales' MEPs has added her voice to the campaign to free kidnapped Welsh businessman Peter Shaw.

Labour's Glenys Kinnock has written what her office has described as a "strongly-worded letter" to the President of Georgia urging him to take immediate action to secure the release of the 57-year-old banker from Cowbridge.

Welsh MEP Glenys Kinnock
Glenys Kinnock: Letter to the president

Mr Shaw was abducted by a gang in Tblisi, the capital of the former Soviet Republic, on 18 June following a shoot-out.

Georgia's president, Eduard Shevardnadze - a personal friend of Mr Shaw - has demanded his top ministers find and free the British banker.

Mrs Kinnock's letter comes amid speculation European Union development aid for the country may be at stake unless there is progress in the investigation.

Mr Shaw had been working for a European Union-sponsored agriculture development bank.

President Shevardnadze said he may hold his ministers personally responsible if law enforcement agencies fail to locate Mr Shaw.

Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze
President Shevardnadze has demanded swift action

He is trying to deal with claims that high-profile politicians, along with criminals, are involved in Georgia's widespread kidnappings of foreign nationals.

Despite assistance from London's Scotland Yard specialists, attempts to find Mr Shaw, who was set to return to Cowbridge after six years in Georgia, have failed.

They included a police hunt-and-rescue operation across Tbilisi on 26 June, when officials believed his kidnappers were holed up in a basement.

The Georgian State Security Ministry has pledged a 15,000-lari reward - or 5,000 - for information about his whereabouts.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw was sponsored by the European Union

Reports have indicated the kidnappers contacted police authorities to demand a US$2m ransom for Mr Shaw - a claim the UK Foreign Office refused to speculate upon.

Mr Shaw - originally from Maesteg - took early retirement as a Midland Bank manager six years ago, then worked in Azerbaijan and Hungary.

He has three children in south Wales - Lisa, 30, Rhodri, 29, and Philip, 26.

He had been in Georgia since 1996 and was appointed team leader in 1999 for Abgrobiznesbank, which gives loans to the agriculture sector under the EU-backed Tacis programme.

EC external relations commissioner Chris Patten has called on Georgian authorities to pursue the attackers "with the utmost rigour and urgency".

See also:

05 Jul 02 | Wales
22 Jun 02 | Wales
22 May 02 | Country profiles
22 May 02 | Europe
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