NEWS

Leros base theft probe focusing on two guards

YIANNIS SOULIOTIS

TAGS: Crime, Defense

As an investigation gets under way into the disappearance of a significant amount of military equipment and weapons from a naval base on the southern Aegean island of Leros, sources at the Greek Police and the country’s armed forces suggest that suspicions are focusing on two guards who had access to the area where the equipment was stored.

The storage area is protected by an electronic security system for which both guards had the passcode, Kathimerini understands.

A third individual, a member of the Hellenic Navy’s Underwater Demolition Squad, is also believed to have had access, so he is also a potential suspect. However, authorities are not ruling out the possibility of the passcode having been leaked to someone else.

It is thought that the motive for the removal of the equipment could be arms smuggling. (In another incident on Leros two years ago, authorities had investigated the theft of 280,000 tons of oil that had been destined for the navy.)

However, the authorities have not yet ruled out two other possible scenarios – that the theft was the work of a domestic guerrilla group or that of a foreign-based group or agency.

In comments to reporters on Wednesday, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said there were signs the equipment had been removed gradually from the navy facility.

“Most indications point to the period from January 2019 to the summer as the period of the removal,” Petsas said. Greece’s counterterrorism unit is taking part in the preliminary investigation, he said.

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