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Abductors free 10-year-old daughter of Bulgaria 'cocaine kingpin'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The kidnapped 10-year-old daughter of one of Bulgaria's alleged cocaine-trafficking lords, Evelin "Brendo" Banev has been released after 47 days in captivity, police said Monday.

Lara Baneva was left at a parking lot in the capital around 10:00 pm (1900 GMT) Sunday and walked to a nearby police station, the interior ministry said.

The girl was in good physical condition and was put under psychological care, it added.

State BNR radio reported that a ransom of 500,000 euros ($653,000) was paid for her release, but the information was not officially confirmed.

According to private bTV television the kidnappers had initially demanded 2.0 million leva (1.0 million euros, $1.3 million) from the Banev family.

Lara Baneva was kidnapped on March 5 in the posh Boyana neighbourhood on Sofia's outskirts while being driven to school.

Witness reports said three masked men had opened fire on the car, wounding the driver and abducting her.

The case was the first high-profile kidnapping of such a young child in Bulgaria.

The girl's father, a 48-year-old former wrestler, was sentenced by a Sofia court on February 15 to seven and a half years in jail for laundering drug-dealing profits worth almost two million euros ($2.6 million).

The police operation against him and his accomplices was called "Cocaine Kingpins."

Banev was subsequently extradited to Italy, where he is now standing trial for allegedly trafficking 40 tonnes of cocaine from Latin America to Europe for the 'Ndrangheta mafia between 2004 and 2007.

Lara Baneva's kidnapping was the first in Bulgaria since 2009, when police broke up a nine-member gang nicknamed "The Bold" that carried out over a dozen abductions for ransom in 2008 and 2009.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130422/abductors-free-10-year-old-daughter-bulgaria-cocaine-kingpin