Coast Guard officials linked to migrant traffickers

An investigation by the internal affairs department of the Greek Police (ELAS) has linked the leadership of the country’s Coast Guard as well as officers of the police and of the National Intelligence Service (EYP) to migrant trafficking rackets, Kathimerini understands.

Three top-ranking officers of the Coast Guard have been implicated in the operation of human smuggling rackets, according to a well-informed source. The extent of their involvement is to be determined by corruption prosecutors who have been given the report by internal affairs officers. Alternate Minister for Shipping Theodoris Dritsas is said to have been briefed too. Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis, Citizens’ Protection Minister Yiannis Panousis and EYP chief Yiannis Roubatis met Friday to discuss the findings of the report and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is also expected to be informed due to the seriousness of the affair.

The probe also has potential political repercussions, Kathimerini understands, as it implicates another suspect with alleged links to SYRIZA. According to reports, the 66-year-old was approached in 2007 to stand as a candidate in Piraeus with SYRIZA in general elections that year. Officers recorded telephone conversations between the suspect and a member of the police’s Aliens’ Bureau who is alleged to have released irregular immigrants on the instructions of human traffickers. In the phone calls, reference is made to removing Panousis from his position due to concerns that he could obstruct the traffickers’ activities. The 66-year-old was investigated by officers of the police’s counter-terrorism unit in 2008 and 2009 due to suspicions that he was helping supply weapons to guerrilla groups, Kathimerini understands.

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