NEWS

Korydallos Prison hostage probe focuses on guards

Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou on Tuesday ordered an investigation into how six inmates at Athens?s high-security Korydallos Prison managed to obtain a pistol and several knives used in a botched escape attempt from the institution on Monday night.

The probe is to determine whether any staff at the jail were accomplices in the failed escape attempt or whether any employees should be charged with gross negligence.

According to sources, the likeliest scenario is that the six — convicted kidnapper Panayiotis Vlastos and five suspected members of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire urban guerrilla group — obtained the pistol with the help of a prison employee.

Police reportedly regard it unlikely that the weapons were smuggled into the jail as all items carried by visitors are passed through a metal detector. Equally improbable, according to police, is the scenario that the weapons were thrown over the prison wall, which is 7 meters high and monitored by video. In a joint document, however, the inmates involved in the escape attempt said, ?We acquired the gun via the prison wall.?

According to the testimony of one witness, Vlastos burst into the jail?s visiting area armed with the pistol and followed by the terror group suspects who beat up a prison guard. The guard managed to shout ?Escape,? triggering the alert.

The escape attempt was resolved late on Monday night with several guards who had been taken hostage released unharmed.

One ministry source said authorities had been warned that ?some of the more politicized inmates of the country?s jails? had been planning to provoke unrest.