NEWS

Top lawyer arrested over prison gang

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Justice, Crime

One of the most high-profile criminal lawyers in the country, Alexandros Lykourezos, was arrested on Thursday by officers of the police’s counterterrorism unit in connection with the so-called “mafia” said to be operating in the Korydallos maximum-security prison in Athens. Another lawyer and an associate of Lykourezos was also arrested on Friday morning.

Lykourezos, 85, is expected to face a special magistrate on Friday. 

A third lawyer, Giorgos Antonopoulos, was remanded in custody earlier this month in connection with the same case after counterterrorism officers established that he had been in frequent telephone contact with Claudian Lekotsai, nicknamed “Claudie,” believed to be the head of the prison gang.

Lykourezos and Panagopoulos had represented Antonopoulos in a trial against two Albanian convicts accused of an attempt on his life in 2014. (The two convicts, both members of Lekotsai’s gang, have also been implicated in the killing in 2017 of yet another Athens lawyer, Michalis Zafeiropoulos.)

In the same trial, the jailed energy executive Aristeidis Floros – who had been at odds with Antonopoulos over the Energa scandal – was also charged as a moral accomplice. On the eve of the trial, however, there was reportedly a flurry of behind-the-scenes negotiations about whether Antonopoulos would testify against Floros or not.

Witness testimonies suggest that Antonopoulos’s lawyers – Lykourezos and Panagopoulos – asked for 2 million euros from Floros for them not to put their client on the stand against the energy executive.

Antonopoulos, however, had apparently opposed this course of action. Moreover, it is widely believed that Zafeiropoulos’ murder was the result of this demand as Lekotsai reportedly sent his associates to the Athens lawyer, to pass on the message to Floros, who was his client.

Responding to the arrests on Thursday, the board of the Athens Bar Association said it did not expect “favorable treatment” for the lawyers but equally appealed against “unfavorable treatment that could lead to their being targeted.”

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