July 3, 2017 / 12:09 PM / 3 months ago

Spanish police rescue kidnapped man held for 11 days

CASARRUBIOS DEL MONTE, Spain (Reuters) - Spanish police launched a dramatic raid to rescue a man they said had been kidnapped, drugged and held for 11 days, minutes before a 1.5 million-euro ($1.7 million) ransom was to be paid.

Video of the raid, released by police on Monday, showed officers with riot shields and pistols drawn breaking down the door of an apartment and the bound victim being told: “Be calm. We’re police. You’re free”.

Police said they had arrested four people in the town of Casarrubios del Monte in the central province of Toledo and another in Madrid in connection with the incident.

The victim, who has not been named, was kidnapped from his home in the Catalonian province of Girona in June by a gang who beat and drugged him before forcing him into a car at gunpoint, according to police.

The victim’s wife received a telephone call demanding 1.5 million euros in exchange for his being released alive.

Police said last week’s raid was launched moments before the ransom was due to be handed over to the kidnappers in a car park. The gang had previously operated in Eastern Europe, they said.

Its alleged ringleader is a Romanian citizen who had studied medicine in Madrid and was working in a hospital there. He is alleged to have procured the drugs used to sedate the victim, police said.

The victim was described as a Serbian who was also a naturalized Dutch citizen. He was taken to hospital to receive treatment for his injuries.

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; editing by Andrew Roche

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