Georgia: Fate Of Kidnapped Spanish Businessmen Remains Unknown

It is exactly a year ago since the kidnap took place in Georgia of the Spanish businessmen Jose Antonio Tremino and Francisco Rodriguez. Their fate remains unknown. The businessmen were kidnapped on the 30th of November 2000, on the way to Tbilisi airport, and according to information which the police have not denied, they were taken to the Pankisi gorge. According to the Spanish media, the hostages are in the hands of a "band of Chechen terrorists". Following constant appeals from Madrid, the Tbilisi authorities have declared several times that the hostages' release is imminent. In October Tbilisi television even reported that the businessmen had been freed, however, this has not been confirmed. Relatives of the Spanish businessmen who accuse the Georgian and Spanish authorities of being inactive, subsequently launched negotiations with the kidnappers. Having collected the money they handed over 52 million pesetas (300,000 dollars). However, soon after the bandits demanded another 45,000 million (250,000 dollars). Representatives of the relatives stated that this sum will also soon be paid. However, as they have already been deceived, the money will only be handed over on the condition that Tremino and Rodriguez are first freed. After that contact with the kidnappers was cut off.