NEWS

Kidnappers’ anarchist link probed

Captured fugitive Vassilis Palaiocostas and three suspected accomplices yesterday were charged with the kidnapping of a high-profile businessman in June, as police probed the connections of two of the accomplices to the Thessaloniki anarchist scene. Palaiocostas and the three suspects believed to have helped him kidnap Giorgos Mylonas, the former chairman of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece and chief executive of aluminium company Alumil, face charges of creating a criminal organization, abduction, extortion and illegal weapons possession. Of the three suspects, police are focusing on two Greeks - Polykratos Georgiadis and Evangelos Chrysochoidis - who are believed to be members of a little-known Thessaloniki-based anarchist group that has claimed a series of car showroom bombings and robberies in the northern city. The third suspect is a 27-year-old ethnic Greek from Kazakhstan serving a sentence in Trikala jail for supermarket robberies. Another four people - three of whom are said to be relatives of the 27-year-old - are facing charges of harboring a criminal. Georgiadis is believed to be behind several recent bombings of luxury car showrooms in Thessaloniki, as well as the proclamations issued after these attacks. Following his arrest in April 2004, he served jail time in Thessaloniki and Korydallos Prison, where he met Palaiocostas. Chrysochoidis is alleged to have committed a string of supermarket robberies in Thessaloniki that helped finance certain anarchist attacks. Police said yesterday that it was Chrysochoidis who led them to Palaiocostas's hideout late on Wednesday, leading to the arrest of the fugitive and the remaining suspects. A search of the hideout, in Souroti, near Thessaloniki airport, unearthed heavy weaponry, including an anti-missile grenade launcher, five Kalashnikov assault rifles, five pistols, three homemade bombs and 3,700 rounds of ammunition. Police were originally unsettled by the grenade launcher, worrying that it might suggest links with a terrorist group but they said yesterday that this was unlikely. The hideout is where Palaiocostas and his accomplices are alleged to have detained Mylonas for two weeks in June. The businessman was released after his family reportedly provided kidnappers with a ransom of roughly 12 million euros.

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