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Friday, 30 August, 2002, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Troops join hunt for kidnapped banker
Peter Shaw
Officials say Peter Shaw could be freed within a week
Troops in the republic of Georgia have been sent to a remote part of the country in an effort to find the kidnapped Welsh businessman Peter Shaw.

Officials have said they are hopeful of finding Mr Shaw and have indicated they know which area he is being held in.

Mr Shaw, 57, was snatched from the capital Tbilisi by an armed gang in June a day before he was to return home to south Wales.

An Arab man holding a French passport has been arrested in connection with Mr Shaw's disappearance.

Early release hope

Soldiers are looking for Mr Shaw in the Pankisi Gorge, a lawless region of Georgia on the border with Chechnya.

The Georgian interior minister, Koba Narchemashvili, said one of his aims in sending troops to the region was to find the kidnapped banker.

Chechen rebel soldiers
Chechen soldiers may have kidnapped Peter Shaw
A western official said it was possible Mr Shaw could be released within a week.

There had been speculation that the lack of progress with the case indicated that Georgian authorities could be involved in the kidnapping themselves.

It is believed that abductions like that of Mr Shaw are carried out by rebel fighters from Chechnya to fund their independence war against Russia.

Russian authorities have claimed that Chechen rebels take refuge in the Pankisi Gorge, where Mr Shaw is now believed to be held.

EC role

Mr Shaw took early retirement from his job as a manager with the Midland Bank six years ago, and worked in Azerbaijan and Hungary before moving to Chechnya.

He was the team leader for the European Commission's Tacis programme, which organised loans to the agricultural sector.

He had been working as a financial adviser for Abgrobiznesbank at the time of his kidnap and had been living in Georgia for six years

A week after he disappeared, discussions in Brussels took place about a 1m euro Abgrobiznesbank loan.

Georgian state prosecutor-general Nugzar Gabrichidze had speculated on a television programme that Mr Shaw's disappearance could have been linked to the deal.

See also:

20 Jun 02 | Europe
22 Jun 02 | Wales
12 Jul 02 | Wales
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