Judges request that record heroin shipment be investigated further

A 62-year-old former high-ranking executive of a Dubai-based shipping firm who is currently in pretrial custody over Greece’s biggest heroin seizure masterminded the smuggling of more than 2 tons of the drug into Greece on a Togo-flagged tanker in June, the Council of Piraeus Misdemeanor Court Judges said in a recent ruling that rejected his appeal for release under bail.

Giorgos B., a 62-year-old also known by the nickname “Captain George,” was the mastermind of the racket and responsible for assigning tasks to the members of the gang who shipped the heroin into Greece. The drugs were found in two separate locations in Attica, where authorities believe the heroin was being prepared for sale. Its street value was estimated at around 30 million euros.

The judges ruled that Giorgos B., in pretrial custody since late August, used “coercion… to convince the members of the crew to proceed with the transportation of narcotic substances.” In his initial deposition, the owner of the Noor 1 tanker, identified as Panayiotis K., said the heroin was hidden in sacks that had been stowed onto the ship from a smaller vessel on the orders of Giorgos B.

Giorgos B. argued in his appeal for release that he was an unwitting accomplice, drawn into the ring by the captain of the Noor 1 and other individuals. Panayiotis K.’s wife, who appears as the legal representative of the company that owns the Noor 1, has also been in pretrial custody since the summer. The judges ruled that her husband’s involvement needs to be exhaustively investigated by authorities.

The judges also asked for a deeper investigation into the possible involvement in the racket of another businessman, referred to by the initials A.K. One of the businesses he owns is a car dealership on the southern coast of Athens.

In his deposition, which was made public in September, Giorgos B. denied any involvement in the case and accused the Noor 1’s captain of lying about who ordered him to smuggle the drugs.

“The captain never communicated with me nor did I ever give an order for anything to be stowed on the ship,” Giorgos B. had said. “Everything he says about me is a blatant lie fabricated by those who want to implicate me in the case.”

The 62-year-old went on to reveal that he was acquainted with A.K. and that the businessman allegedly chartered the Noor 1. “In March 2014 he called me from Greece and mentioned someone called Panagiotis K. [the ship’s owner] and asked me to help in my capacity as an executive of a shipping firm to charter the Noor 1,” Giorgos B. told the prosecutor after his arrest.

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