The appeal of seven defendants convicted over the suspected murder in 2012 of a 26-year-old university student in Athens began in the Greek capital on Monday, with the president of the chamber urging the defendants to come clean about the events that led to the disappearance of Marios Papageorgiou.
“The truth is always liberating,” the judge told the 73-year-old chief suspect, his wife and another five defendants. “You pursued a line of defense in the first-instance court that was not successful and led to your conviction. You have one more chance to talk, probably your last.”
Marios Papageorgiou went missing on August 9, 2102, after leaving the seaside resort of Diakofto where he had been on holiday with his mother for the town of Aigio in the northern Peloponnese. In the early hours of the following day, his mother received a call from a man demanding 620,000 euros in ransom for he son's release but was advised by a close family friend, the chief suspect, not to alert authorities.
The mother, a reputable doctor, went on to report the incident to the police a few days later, prompting an investigation that found evidence of the 73-year-old having orchestrated the young man's abduction.
Marios Papageorgiou remains missing to this day and authorities believe he was either murdered by his kidnappers after their plan failed or died accidentally while in their custody. He was presumed dead after forensics testing on his car revealed a large pool of his blood in the trunk.
The family “friend” was sentenced to life plus an additional 23 years in prison for murder, kidnapping, running a gang and blackmail. His wife has also been sentenced to 18 years in prison for aiding and abetting, while another five defendants were convicted to five years each for their role in helping with the abduction.
Monday's trial began with the victim's mother, Varvara Theodoraki, describing in detail the events that unfolded after she received the ransom call. “The only person I trusted turned out to me my child's killer,” she told the judges, describing how the 73-year-old had told her he worked for the secret services and had connections that would help him find her son's kidnappers.
She went on to appeal for information on the whereabout of her son's remains.