NEWS

Police seek clues in killing of top criminal lawyer

TAGS: Crime, Justice

Police investigating the killing of prominent lawyer Michalis Zafeiropoulos in his Athens office on Thursday night are seeking to determine whether the crime had been premeditated, Kathimerini understands. 

Investigators have determined that two men entered the building on Asclepiou Street at around 7 p.m. had had an appointment with Zafeiropoulos.

According to the latter’s associate, the two men were aged between 30 and 40 and spoke good Greek but with a foreign accent that suggested they might be Albanian.

Initially the four men had a conversation in the lobby before the pair were led to Zafeiropoulos’s office. Once they were alone with him, one of them shot him in the chest at close range, killing him instantly.

As Zafeiropoulos’s office has no surveillance cameras, police are focusing on footage from the cameras of shops in the area in their bid to identify the killers.

The police investigation was focusing on recent cases undertaken by the 52-year-old criminal lawyer as investigators believe one of these may have provoked the perpetrators.

Among the cases handled by Zafeiropoulos are the defense of a suspect in the Energa-Hellas Power embezzlement affair (which has been linked to an attempted contract killing), the defense of the publisher of Parapolitika in a case against Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, the defense of arms dealer Thomas Liakounakos as well as theft and drug cases.  

However, investigators are also considering possible links with suspected members of a cannabis racket that Zafeiropoulos had been set to defend on Monday. The racket’s activities were uncovered in September last year and linked to a large ring of Albanian cannabis smugglers which was broken two months later.

Legal professionals on Friday expressed their respect for Zafeiropoulos, a well-known criminal lawyer and the son of former New Democracy MP Epaminondas Zafeiropoulos. 

The president of the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, Nikos Sakellariou, called for a minute’s silence at the beginning of the court’s plenary session in the morning, expressing “deep sorrow” at the lawyer’s death.

The Athens Bar Association also held a minute’s silence, while several cases that had been planned for Friday were postponed after the association called a week-long strike, starting on Thursday night. 

As the investigation into the murder intensified on Friday, the leader of main opposition New Democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his concern at “a prevailing climate of total lawlessness, even in central Athens.”

In a dig at the government, Mitsotakis referred to the “unjustifiable tolerance that some display toward violence and lawlessness.”

“Citizens feel less and less safe,” he said, adding that such a situation “should not be tolerated in a state that abides by the rule of law.”

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