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One kidnap, three countries, 200 police and ?1.2m ransom

SWEDISH police will today apply to France for the extradition of two men captured in connection with a kidnap last week involving 200 officers in three countries, a rich man's son and ?1.2m ransom.

Erik Westerberg, the 23-year-old son of Sweden's fifth wealthiest man was kidnapped last Monday outside his flat in Stockholm.

The engineering student was taken in a white Mercedes van to a house in the suburbs of Stockholm, where he was held for five days at gunpoint.

"The next morning, at 7.45am, I received the first call," said his father, Lars Westerberg (54). "They said they would kill Erik if I contacted the police or did not obey their instructions."

But Mr Westerberg decided to do so. It was the start of a cross-border hunt involving up to 250 police officers in Sweden, Belgium and France.

Lars Nylen, head of the Swedish police, said officers managed to track the movements of the extortionists through data "hits" on mobile phone transmitters across Europe.

Last Thursday, Mr Westerberg was told to fly to Luxembourg with ?1.2m and on Friday, he received a call telling him to go to the central train station.

There, his mobile phone rang and a voice told him to search the left-luggage lockers.

In them, he found another phone, which rang. He was told to rent a car and drive towards Paris.

Finally, Mr Westerberg was directed to Nogent-sur-Marne near Paris. He was instructed to leave the ransom under a bridge.

French and Swedish police in an unmarked vehicle waited for the extortionists' car to arrive at the scene and then they followed it towards Lille.

Minutes after the "drop", the call came revealing Erik's whereabouts and an hour later he was freed.

Then at about 7.30pm on Friday the unmarked car following the Seat closed in.

"Their (police) job was made easy. The two men had begun drinking beers in the car and stopped for a pee just before the Lille toll booth. Three hours after I had handed over the ransom, my son was back and so was the money," said Mr Westerberg.

Nine others have been arrested but police say they are still searching for the two men who abducted Erik in the Mercedes van. ( Independent News Service)