NEWS

Top crime suspect caught at courts

A suspected leading underworld boss accused of having ordered the killing of one of his main rivals during a gangland war three years ago was arrested in Athens yesterday, apparently while on the way to surrender to a prosecutor. Later in the day, he was released on bail. Vassilis Stefanakos, 42, allegedly headed a large extortion racket and was also deeply involved in lucrative cigarette and fuel smuggling – in which police and harbor police officials have been accused of participating. Police broke up the gang in July, arresting several suspects, and charges were filed against 44 people, including Stefanakos. But he evaded arrest and became a minor media star giving television and magazine interviews in which he claimed to be an honest businessman. Stefanakos faces charges of extortion, arson, causing explosions, smuggling, grievous bodily harm and complicity in the 2000 execution of gangland boss Themis Kalapotharakos. He was arrested at the main Athens courts complex, where he had apparently meant to turn himself in.