Police raid flat to free kidnapped sister of AC Milan star Oliveira
POLICE raided an apartment in a poor district of São Paulo and freed the kidnapped sister of the AC Milan striker Ricardo Oliveira, it emerged yesterday.
Maria de Lourdes Silva de Oliveira was found alone on Monday and appeared to be unharmed five months after she was abducted by two hooded gunmen who broke into her home in So Paulo, the biggest city in South America, police said yesterday.
The abductors had overpowered her husband and children before taking her.
"She was in a state of shock," Luciana Araripe, a police spokeswoman, said. "She was taken to the So Mateus Hospital for treatment."
Police received an anonymous tip via the internet and sent six officers to the Rododolfo Pirani district on So Paulo's east side, Ms Araripe said. "They heard a woman shouting, and kicked down the door," she added.
Inside, they found Ms Oliveira, 36.
No suspects were located, but police found documents which could lead them to the possible kidnappers, Ms Araripe said.
Ms Oliveira reportedly showed signs of malnutrition, dehydration and mistreatment, and said she had been moved around a number of locations during her ordeal.
It is not known whether any money was paid to Ms Oliveira's captors.
In Milan, an elated Ricardo Oliveira called Adriano Galliani, vice-president of AC Milan, and told him his sister had been freed, the Italian club said on its website.
"I'm also very happy," Mr Galliani said. "Just like Ricardo Oliveira was when he told me his sister was well."
Oliveira said he didn't know if his sister was alive or dead during the months she was kidnapped and thanked AC Milan's fans, his team-mates and the club president for their support.
"Finally, this good news from Brazil. It is great that she is doing well," he said in a statement on the club's website. "Now, I can focus on playing football for this side. I want to do everything that I can to repay everything this club has done for me."
Oliveira said he was still in shock and did not want to talk at length about her kidnapping.
"This is a joyous moment for everyone, not just me. At the same time, you can't really understand how horrible it is to go through something like this unless you have experienced it," he said in his statement.
"I am happy that she is alive and that she is doing well. Now she is at home. She is resting and everything is OK. Now I want to focus on training and playing so that I can do what the fans are expecting of me.
"I want to say thank you to Milan, because they have been really great to me."
The kidnapping of family members of Brazilian football stars has become rife in recent years. Most are released fairly promptly, but Oliveira's sister was held far longer than most kidnap victims, a period Ms Araripe described as "an unusually long time".
She added: "Luckily she was OK and has been released from the hospital to go home."
However, Brazilian football players are not alone in their suffering. Last year, the body of Levan Kaladze, brother of Georgian AC Milan defender Kakha Kaladze, was finally returned to his family - bringing an end to a lengthy kidnap ordeal.
FAMILIES AT GROWING RISK
THE kidnapping of family members of football stars was taboo for many years in Brazil, where the sport is a national passion. But abductions have increased dramatically in recent years.
The Real Madrid midfielder Robinho, who twice led Santos to the national title, transferred to the giant Spanish club two years ago in a move he said could help him protect his family. His mother was kidnapped for 40 days at the end of 2004. Robinho is said to have paid a ransom of about 45,000.
Last year, the mother of Santos defender Kleber was rescued unharmed nearly two hours after being kidnapped in So Paulo. She was the sixth mother of a player to be snatched since November 2004.
Sevilla striker Luis Fabiano, former Sporting Lisbon defender Rogerio, Le Mans striker Grafite and Corinthians defender Marinho also had their mothers kidnapped and released, often after ransom was paid.
In September, the 21-year-old sister of Palmeiras wingback Michael Anderson Pereira da Silva was kidnapped and released after nine days.
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