NEWS

Kurds, Iranian held for extortion racket

Four Kurds and an Iranian have been arrested for allegedly setting up an extortion gang that preyed on bar owners in the seedier parts of central Athens, police said yesterday. The suspects, whose names were not made public, allegedly turned up in bars and clubs in the vicinity of Omonia and Vathis squares armed with a pistol and axes, and threatened to destroy the establishments or injure their owners unless they were given «protection money.» One of the gang’s victims told police the suspects had been round to his establishment three times, demanding an 18,000-euro payment to leave him alone. A second bar owner complained that gang members visited him on a daily basis, causing minor damage to the bar and bothering customers. When he refused to pay up, they allegedly stole his cash register. The suspects were arrested in the act of receiving 1,000 euros from the first bar owner.