Archive for Friday, October 27, 2006

Authorities thwart plot to kidnap crystal heiress

October 27, 2006

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— Elite police commandos were providing round-the-clock protection for Austria's most famous couple - crystal heiress Fiona Swarovski and her husband, Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser - after authorities thwarted a kidnap-for-ransom plot, officials said Thursday.

Swarovski, 41, was in a secure location somewhere in the alpine province of Tyrol, said Gerald Hesztera, a spokesman for the Federal Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Police also were guarding Grasser, 37, although it remained unclear whether he also had been a target.

Officials said they tightened security around the couple after a Romanian prisoner at a jail in Innsbruck tipped them to a plot allegedly hatched by a criminal gang from Eastern Europe to kidnap Swarovski and demand an undisclosed amount of cash.

Hesztera said the inmate, whose name was not released, provided "concrete information" about the plot, prompting police to take immediate action Wednesday. He said investigators were working to track down the would-be kidnappers, but refused to elaborate.

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