Monday 18 December 2017

Ecclestone's pilot 'planned kidnap of mother-in-law'

Aparecida Schnuck was tied up in a house near Sao Paulo. Photo: REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto
Aparecida Schnuck was tied up in a house near Sao Paulo. Photo: REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto
Bernie Ecclestone and his wife Fabiana Flosi. Photo: Ian West/PA Wire

Rachael Alexander

The kidnapping of Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone's mother-in-law was allegedly planned by one of his helicopter pilots, Sao Paulo police have said.

They said Jorge Eurico da Silva Faria took care of F1 helicopter operations in Sao Paulo until 2014 and often worked for Ecclestone in Brazil after that.

He was among three men arrested in connection with the kidnapping.

Police found Aparecida Schunck (67), who had been held since Friday of last week, tied up but unharmed in a house on the outskirts of Sao Paulo on Sunday. She is the mother of Fabiana Flosi, who has been married to Ecclestone since 2012.

Sao Paulo has had problems with people being kidnapped and held for ransom, but a dedicated police task force reduced the crime over the last 15 years.

The incident came just ahead of the Olympic Games which start in Rio de Janeiro on Friday. Authorities say they are deploying 85,000 troops and soldiers during the competition.

Ms Schunck was kidnapped for a ransom of £28m (¤33m). It is believed that investigators monitored phone calls between the family of Ms Schunck and the captors, then traced them to the location where she was being held.

Brazilian police said they rescued Ms Schunck on Sunday from two men on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.

She was not harmed in the operation, which was conducted by Sao Paulo's anti-kidnapping division.

Elisabete Sato of Sao Paulo police told the BBC that the ransom, thought to have been the largest in Brazilian history, had not been paid.

She said there had been a major police operation to free the victim and two suspects were arrested.

Mr Ecclestone (85) married Ms Flosi in 2012, three years after meeting her at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Brazilian magazine 'Veja' reported that the demand was for the ransom to be paid in sterling and divided into four bags.

Mr Ecclestone has so far declined to comment on the abduction. It is understood that he wanted to fly to Brazil to assist police and offered the use of a private security company to deal with the abductors.

Irish Independent

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