NEWS

Two remanded as extortion probe deepens

As a judicial probe into a massive extortion ring directed from inside Korydallos Prison deepened, an investigating magistrate on Tuesday granted two suspected members conditional release while remanding another two.

Those remanded include a foreign national who was arrested recently outside the Metamorphosi home of the cousin of one of the alleged ring leaders, Panayiotis Vlastos. The woman, who is in a witness protection program, has provided police with valuable insights into the workings of the racket. The second suspect remanded on Tuesday is the mother of a former fellow inmate of Vlastos; she is alleged to have run errands for the crime boss. The two suspects given conditional release are one of Vlastos’s ex-girlfriends and a former Korydallos prison guard.

Additional details from the case file indicated that the racket, allegedly directed by Vlastos and another two convicts from within Korydallos, also benefited from the help of anarchist groups. According to one witness, anarchists had forged personal documents for two associates of Vlastos who were involved in a thwarted helicopter breakout from Trikala Prison in February 2013.

The witness, a 35-year-old woman who was not named, said the anarchists in question were acquaintances of Spyros Dravilas, who is being sought in connection with armed robberies involving jailed Revolutionary Struggle leader Nikos Maziotis. The 35-year-old said Vlastos also had connections with jailed members of Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire.

Another witness, a Syrian national who has been linked to a bomb attack on the home of a high-ranking judge, implicated in the racket a 35-year-old Albanian, named only as Aimilios, and a known anarchist, Dimitris Mamalikopoulos, who has been convicted of the murder of five people in Cyprus in 2012. The Albanian was referred to in a wiretapped telephone conversation between Vlastos and an accomplice in which the latter indicates that the Albanian was the hit man in the murder of journalist Sokratis Giolias in 2010. The attack was subsequently claimed by Sect of Revolutionaries.