NEWS

Dog leads to Passaris

Greece’s police chief, Gen. Fotis Nasiakos, flew to Bucharest yesterday to join Romanian police interrogating Costas Passaris, the 26-year-old fugitive who was arrested on Tuesday after briefly becoming Romania’s most wanted criminal. This was a title he had gained in Greece with the murder of two police officers last February when he shot his way out of their custody during a visit to an Athenian hospital. Greek officials are to file an extradition request for Passaris next week, but he is expected to first stand trial in Romania for the alleged murder of two employees of a Bucharest currency exchange shop who were killed during a robbery in the early hours of Sunday. Each murder could carry a 25-year prison term. Addressing Cabinet members yesterday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed satisfaction with the capture of Passaris. Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said that the capture did justice to the efforts of the Greek police. More cynically, the opposition New Democracy party’s shadow defense and foreign policy minister, Dora Bakoyiannis, commented on Passaris: Fortunately, God inspired him to go to Romania, where he was caught. As details of Passaris’s escape from Greece and dramatic life on the run emerged yesterday, it appeared that his love for his dog cost him his freedom, the same man who was seen kicking and spitting at his captors after his arrest on Tuesday. A woman in Athens, who was reportedly Passaris’s girlfriend, sent the Rottweiler by air freight to Romania in mid-September. When police arrested her, they found the receipt in her apartment and, later, investigating in Romania, they found the dog at the country home in Bakou of Mario Popa (aka Mario Raducan), another alleged accomplice of Passaris. When they heard that a man who spoke Greek often visited the dog, they were sure they were close to finding Passaris, and they shared the information with their Romanian colleagues. I thanked the Romanian police for the perfect cooperation we had and will continue to have, Nasiakos said at a joint news conference with Romanian officials. Passaris’s alleged accomplice in Sunday’s robbery, 21-year-old Padilla Mioara, was arrested in another of the five apartments that the couple had rented. She reportedly confessed to their perpetrating the crime and evidence was found in a third apartment. Attica Security Police Chief Giorgos Angelakos said in Athens that after his escape in February, Passaris is believed to have killed a Public Power Corporation clerk in a holdup in Peristeri in March and murdered Blanca Slavceva, a 22-year-old Bulgarian prostitute, after spending two days with her in an Athenian hotel in May. Greece will ratify an international convention on jurisdiction and foreign judgments signed in Basel, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said yesterday after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Justice Minister Filippos Petsalnikos to discuss compensation bids by Greek citizens against the German State for World War II atrocities. If Parliament does ratify the convention, which is seen as crucial to the standing of such cases, it will not apply retroactively.