Assassins avenged road death

Three members of a farming family from a village in central Greece have been charged with the contract killing of a taxi driver and fellow villager whom they held responsible for the death, seven years ago, of their teenage son in a road accident. Police in Larissa, central Greece, said yesterday a total of eight people – a 54-year-old farmer, his wife, 51, and daughter, 24, and five Albanian laborers – were involved in the murder, early on January 3, of Ioannis Darlayiannis, who was found dead in his taxi on a remote street on the outskirts of Larissa. The 29-year-old taxi driver had been shot twice in the back of the head in what police from the outset suspected was the work of a professional assassin who hailed down the taxi as a client. According to Larissa police, the motive for the killing dates back to October 1996, when Darlayiannis accidentally ran over with his taxi and killed a 16-year-old boy in his home village of Zarkos, some 22 kilometers (14 miles) west of Larissa. The boy’s parents never forgave the taxi driver for their son’s death, and for years plotted their revenge. A hate campaign eventually forced Darlayiannis to abandon Zarkos for Larissa, where he continued to work as a taxi driver, but the boy’s parents still nurtured their wrath. In the spring of 2001, they paid four Albanians 1.76 million drachmas (5,180 euros) to kill Darlayiannis. But the men – two of whom were found and confessed – took the money without fulfilling the contract. In December, with the help of two other Albanians, three Albanian laborers were found to kill Darlayiannis, which they did after taking an undisclosed sum. The couple and their daughter, who were not named, were charged with incitement and complicity to murder. The Albanians have not been located.

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