Standoff continues at Central Greece prison as hostage-taker refuses to back down

Alket Rizaj, the convicted contract killer who took hostage six guards at Maladrino Prison on Saturday and has been in a standoff with police negotiators and special police service operatives since, claimed on Sunday evening that he is determined to get his demand for a safe escape granted.

The Albanian national, who has escaped custody twice already – in 2006 and 2009, both times from Attica’s maximum security Korydallos Prison by helicopter, along with convict and known associate Vassilis Paleocostas – told police negotiators that he has a hand grenade and has packed his body with explosives, which he will detonate unless provided with a safe escape.

Police have cordoned off the area around the prison and set up road blocks at all key junctions in the vicinity, as they suspect that Rizaj is working with accomplices who are ready to drive him to safety should his demand for release be met.

Authorities further reported unrest among other inmates at Malandrino Prison, who set fires in the facility, prompting fears that a riot could break out and hamper the police’s efforts to resolve the standoff by convincing Rizaj to release his hostages, which numbered five on Sunday afternoon after one guard managed to escape when police threw smoke bombs into the prison earlier in the day.

According to the latest reports, police have cordoned off a 2-kilometer perimeter around the prison, barring media crews from approaching the facility.

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