NEWS

Terror probe leads to arrest of two robbers

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Crime, Terrorism

The arrest of two suspects on Wednesday in connection with a botched holdup of a money delivery van at Thessaloniki’s AHEPA Hospital was the result of a months-long investigation by the police’s counterterrorism department, Kathimerini understands.

Both Yiannis Dimitrakis, 41, and Costas Sakkas, 35, have criminal records for previous robberies and authorities have long been probing alleged links to guerrilla organizations including Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire and Group of Popular Fighters.

The pair entered the hospital grounds posing as a patient and doctor before pulling out guns and grabbing cash from the van before fleeing. They were stopped by counterterrorism officers who also arrested a 39-year-old woman believed to be an accomplice.

A top official at the Citizens’ Protection Ministry suggested in comments to Kathimerini on Wednesday that the ongoing investigation would yield revelations in the coming days.

The sense among police and ministry officials is that the perpetrators had intended to use the 70,000 euros that had been in the money delivery van for future terrorist attacks.

The suspects are believed to have strong links to anarchist circles and, authorities suspect, to armed groups, and have an active past.

Identified as a member of a gang behind several armed bank heists in central Athens between 2002 and 2006, Dimitrakis was only convicted for one of the robberies, at a branch of National Bank in 2006. Another robber-anarchist, Marios Seisidis, who also took part in that robbery, was arrested in 2016, along with Sakkas.

Sakkas had come under the scrutiny of counterterrorism officers probing Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire but was cleared of charges of membership of the group. There are also indications, though no proof, of links to Group of Popular Fighters.

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