Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Swiss Claim Several Israelis Plotted to Kidnap Onassis Heir

November 7, 1997
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Two former senior Israeli army officers were allegedly involved in a plot earlier this year to kidnap the granddaughter of the late shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, according to the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot.

The plan was thwarted after a third Israeli contacted the girl’s father, Thierry Roussel, and tried to sell information about the plot for $50,000, the report said. The man was arrested by Swiss authorities.

Israeli police officials told Israel Radio that six Israelis had been detained in connection with the affair.

They said the suspects had disclosed during questioning that the pursuit of Athena Roussel, 12, was ordered by her father’s rivals in order to make him lose custody of her, and that there was never any intent to kidnap her.

Athena, who is the daughter of the late Christina Onassis, is expected to inherit $2.4 billion when she turns 18.

Her father has filed a lawsuit to take control of her trust fund.

According to the newspaper report, the attempted kidnapping was to take place in February, but Geneva police were informed of the plot and warned the authorities in St. Moritz, where Athena and her father were vacationing.

A breakthrough in the case came in September, when Swiss police arrested an Israeli, identifying himself as “Ayal,” who had tried to extort $50,000 from Roussel in exchange for information about the kidnappers.

Recommended from JTA