Spanish Businessmen Leave For Madrid After A Year As Hostages In Georgia

Spanish businessmen Jose Tremino and Francisco Rodriguez, who were kept hostage in the Pankisi Gorge, Georgia, for over a year, will leave Tbilisi for Madrid on Monday. A small business class jet provided by King Juan Carlos will pick them up in the Georgian capital. Going together with them will be their wives, relatives and Manuel de Luna, counsellor of the Spanish Embassy in Russia. They will be escorted to the airport by an armed group of the Georgian Interior Ministry. On November 30, 2000, Jose Tremino and Francisco Rodriguez were heading for the airport and their plane home, when unidentified armed men stopped their car, beat up and dumped the accompanying policeman, and kidnapped the businessmen. "The two Spanish citizens were released thanks to the efforts of the staff of the Georgian ministries of the interior and security and the intelligence department, as well as the residents of the area where the businessmen were kept hostage," President Eduard Shevardnadze said at a press conference in Tbilisi today. In his words, the kidnappers have not been detained so far, but the investigation is underway. President Shevardnadze said he did not know if the kidnappers received a ransom for the Spaniards.

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