A former Olympic sailing champion has been arrested by police in Italy after they broke up an alleged child kidnapping ring.
Police in Italy have arrested a former Olympic sailing champion after breaking up an alleged child kidnapping ring.
Larissa Moskalenko, who won bronze in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul for the Soviet Union and Unified Team, is one of several people arrested according to reports.
It is claimed that the 50-year-old's rent-a-boat firm, based in Sicily, supplied the boats that were used to transport children from North Africa to Europe.
The gang allegedly charged tens of thousands of dollars for the abductions and used high-speed boats to kidnap children who were involved in custody battles.
The first operation by the group took place in October 2012 when a child was kidnapped in Tunisia, sailed to Sicily and then transferred to Norway, the police said.
A second operation in November 2012 was foiled when police intercepted the calls of Ms Moskalenko's firm, the BBC reported.
Police claim further operations had been planned in Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt.
Three others arrested have been named as Luigi Cannistraro, Antonio Barazza and Sebastiano Calabrese.
Two Norwegians and a Swede are also being held in Tunisia.
The BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome says they could face kidnapping and human trafficking charges.