NEWS

Murder gang leader back in custody

Nearly five months after disappearing during an Easter furlough from prison, the leader of a white-collar gang that murdered wealthy elderly people for their property was arrested yesterday in a flat very close to the central Athens court complex. Christos Papadopoulos, 63, a lawyer and former mayor of the Athens suburb of Nea Halkidona, gave no resistance to officers who arrested him in a ground-floor flat at 51 Tzoumagias Street in Kypseli. He had been under surveillance for days, after a neighbor reportedly recognized him – despite the luxuriant beard he had grown since his April 18 disappearance – and notified the police. Papadopoulos had been using a forged identity card in the name of Nikos Rebelos (the rebel). Along with Papadopoulos, who was serving eight life sentences for masterminding eight murders between 1985 and 1987, police arrested 40-year-old Apostolos Belos, who has previous convictions for theft and blackmail, for aiding and abetting the escaped convict. Papadopoulos told journalists he went underground because he could not stand the humid climate in Corfu, where he was held, and prison authorities had refused to transfer him elsewhere. After befriending lonely, rich, elderly people, the former mayor and 20 accomplices forced their victims to alter their wills to the gang’s advantage before killing them.