Dublin: The story of an emaciated, ragged man found wandering barefoot in the middle of a quiet country road last week in County Leitrim, near the border with Northern Ireland, continues to confound the police, even after he was identified as a missing Irish property tycoon who said he was abducted eight months ago and tortured during his captivity.
The Irish police say the man, Kevin McGeever, 68, has been unable to give them a coherent statement about the details of his ordeal as he recovers in a Mullingar hospital. But the Irish and British news media have been filled with speculation about who might have kidnapped him, with suspects like the members of the Russian mob or Irish republican dissidents.
What is known is that Mr McGeever, who made a fortune selling luxury homes in Dubai, disappeared from his mansion in County Galway in May. His partner, Siobhan O'Callaghan, reported his disappearance several weeks later but asked the police not to publicize it. As a result, relatively few people even knew he was missing.
RTE, the national broadcaster, said Mr McGeever told the police that a masked gang had kidnapped him and tortured him, but that he did not know where he had been held and could not recall much else about his ordeal.
Paul Reynolds, the crime correspondent for RTE, reported that Mr McGeever "said the kidnappers had demanded a ransom for his safe release, but he did not know whether a ransom had been paid." The couple who found Mr McGeever last Tuesday night on the road in County Leitrim said they first mistook him for a traffic cone as they approached him with their car because of his "red trousers."
Catherine Vallely, who was driving, and her partner, Peter Rehill, described Mr McGeever as disoriented and as being "skin and bone," according to a local journalist. Although Mr McGeever did not know where he was or what day or month it was, Vallely said, "he was very well educated, well spoken, and polite and articulate."
"He had a pair of enormous eyes in a very thin face, and his cheekbones stuck out," she said. "He was rubbing his beard with fingers that had long nails."
Mr McGeever gave the couple only his first name, told them that he had been abducted and asked them to call a friend on a new cellphone he was carrying.
Despite his protests, they drove him to a nearby police station. He was later hospitalized for malnutrition and dehydration. On his forehead was the word "thief," but reports differ as to whether it had been carved into his skin or written in ink.
In search of clues about his kidnapping, the local news media have been looking into Mr McGeever's lavish lifestyle, which was made possible by the success of his company, KMM Properties. The company sold apartments in Dubai to wealthy Irish and British clients. Mr McGeever also had a collection of luxury cars and owned or leased a helicopter.
The police are said to be skeptical about the involvement of foreign criminals in this case despite assertions attributed to Mr McGeever that he had been abducted by members of the Russian mafia. The police are concentrating their efforts on trying to discover whether Mr McGeever was held in Northern Ireland before being freed across the border.
Mr McGeever was found last week near the site of a 1983 shootout between members of an Irish Republican Army gang and Irish security forces who were trying to free a wealthy supermarket executive kidnapped by the militants. The executive, Don Tidey, was rescued, but two members of the security team were killed.
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