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Kidnap Suspect in Germany Escapes

November 16, 1998

POTSDAM, Germany (AP) _ German police were searching today for an escaped prisoner who had been awaiting trial in the kidnapping of a young man left to die in a pit in the woods.

Sergei Serov, 38, used bed sheets to climb down from the roof of the jail in Potsdam, just south of Berlin, late Saturday, police said. Jail officials didn’t realize he was missing until midday Sunday, although a surveillance camera on a nearby building captured the escape on videotape.

A nationwide search was under way for Serov, who is considered to be potentially violent and very dangerous, police spokesman Geert Piorkowski said.

Serov and fellow Russian Vyacheslav Orlov, 28, were to go on trial next year on charges of kidnapping leading to death. Authorities said the two had made partial confessions in the case of Matthias Hintze, a 20-year-old kidnapped Sept. 14, 1997, and buried in a pit, where he slowly suffocated.

His body was found Oct. 8, 1997, a day after the Russians were arrested while trying to pick up the $625,000 ransom.

Last week, Berlin prosecutors also filed kidnapping charges against the two men in the case of a Berlin-based Russian computer dealer, Alexander Galius, who disappeared in June 1997. A ransom of $625,000 was demanded in that case as well.

Galius was never found and police suspect he died in an underground shaft like Hintze.

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