Police boost security after terror threats

Amid rising fears of a possible terrorist attack on a high-level target, the Greek Police is enforcing security measures akin to those used for the Athens Olympics in 2004, Kathimerini has learned.

Police patrols have been intensified around central landmarks and around hotels where foreign officials visiting Athens as part of the country’s presidency of the European Union are staying. One official revealed that bomb disposal experts have been instructed to search individuals and vehicles that appear suspicious near venues hosting foreign envoys.

The force is also reviewing security for the 320 top potential targets for terrorist hits in Athens, according to sources.

Greek authorities are believed to have enlisted the help of the FBI and Scotland Yard to boost security.

The security alert comes a day after fugitive November 17 convict Christodoulos Xeros announced his return to terrorism in a video message and letter posted online. Xeros has been at large since absconding from a furlough from Korydallos Prison earlier this month. The development rattled the government and prompted the US State Department to press the Greek authorities to find the fugitive.

Police investigations continued on Wednesday, with raids on several apartments in Athens and Thessaloniki and three arrests, two in the capital and one in the northern port.

Meanwhile, the police offered a 4-million-euro reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of Xeros as well as another two convicted members of Revolutionary Struggle and the unknown killers of two members of the neofascist Golden Dawn. Nikos Maziotis and Panagiota Roupa have remained unaccounted for since July 2012, when they were released after serving the maximum of 18 months in pretrial custody.

Authorities offered a reward of 1 million euros for information leading to Xeros’s arrest, the same sum for the arrest of Maziotis or Roupa and 1 million euros for details about the gunmen behind the murders of two Golden Dawn members in Neo Iraklio, northern Athens.

In a related development, it emerged that Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou is drafting legislative reforms that would make it easier for judicial officials to remand suspects pending trial. He is also planning to tighten security in the country’s prisons, particularly in supposedly high-security institutions such as Korydallos Prison near Piraeus, which got a new warden on Wednesday. Hara Koutsomichali replaces Maria Stefi, who was transferred to another prison as an investigation gets under way into how Xeros was allowed to meet regularly with jailed members of another guerrilla group, Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, while he was an inmate at Korydallos.