NEWS

Russian decoy in car kidnap

Police were combing the forest of Varibombi, on the outskirts of Athens, yesterday for traces of a man believed to have been abducted and killed in a mafia-style shooting last week after arranging to meet a woman claiming to be a friend of his Russian girlfriend. Athanassios Koropiotis, 30, was declared missing on Tuesday afternoon by his family, who had not seen him since just before midnight on Monday, when he received a phone call from a woman who said she was a friend of his girlfriend, Oxana Usanikova, 25, and apparently suggested that they should go to meet see Usanikova together. The rendezvous was a cafe in Maroussi. Police said yesterday they had arrested a couple – Kyriakos Pakatouridis, 32, an ethnic Greek from Uzbekistan, and Victoria Tarashevits, 24, from Belarus – in a highway coffee shop near the Vale of Tempe toll post on Saturday in connection with Koropiotis’s disappearance. A search of the rented car in which the couple had been traveling north revealed a hand grenade and a nine-millimeter bullet casing. Police said Tarashevits claimed that Pakatouridis, together with Fokas Yagoulis, 34, an ethnic Greek from Russia, Albanian national Alket Rizaz, 29, and a fourth unidentified man forced her to make the phone call to Koropiotis. She said the four took her to the Maroussi meeting, where they abducted Koropiotis and took him to a remote, forested area north of Athens, where Rizaz and Pakatouridis took him away. She then heard a couple of shots, and the two came back without their captive. A private detective working for Koropiotis’s family, Giorgos Tsoukalis, said the affair had been a case of mistaken identity.