Jailbreak was thwarted after ministry tipoff

Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis said on Monday that authorities had been tipped off that crime boss Panayiotis Vlastos would try to escape from Trikala Prison, central Greece, during a visit to the institution where a dramatic jailbreak was averted by authorities on Sunday.

Armed men attempted to help Vlastos break out from the facility on Sunday afternoon with the help of a helicopter but prison guards reacted quickly, exchanging fire with the crime boss’s accomplices and foiling the escape. More than 200 shots were fired, forcing the helicopter to touch down outside the prison and leading to the arrest of a 30-year-old Greek and a 31-year-old Romanian who had been armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and Uzi submachine guns. Vlastos was injured during the escape after falling some 5 meters from a rope ladder thrown down from the helicopter. The underground boss is serving a life term for his involvement in the so-called “crime syndicate,” which has been linked to extortion, kidnapping and murder.

In another thwarted escape from Attica’s high-security Korydallos Prison in December 2011 he took three hostages. Sunday’s developments prompted talks on improving security in Greek prisons.

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