Court convicts crime syndicate

An appeals court on Monday convicted 18 out of the 20 suspected members of a so-called crime syndicate believed to be behind a string of robberies and the kidnapping of shipping magnate Pericles Panagopoulos in January 2009.

The two central figures in the ring, Panagiotis Vlastos and Yiannis Skaftouros, were deemed to be the masterminds behind the kidnapping while four of the others were convicted for carrying out the plan. As for the fate of the 30 million euros the abduction netted for the ring, no related evidence came to light during the 18 months of hearings. The court cleared two people who had been tied to the ring, one of them a lawyer.

A date for sentencing had not been set by late on Monday.

Last December, Vlastos and four suspected members of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire urban guerrilla group took visitors and guards hostage at Athens?s Korydallos Prison in an apparent escape attempt. They released their hostages unharmed after negotiations with police.

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