NEWS

Britain extradites murder suspect

After fighting off successive attempts for his extradition from Britain to Greece for a year and a half, a man accused of masterminding the kidnapping and murder of a businessman and friend in late 1997 was turned over to the Greek authorities yesterday. Panayiotis Krambis, 47, was held overnight in the Athens police headquarters and is to be charged today. Krambis is already in the hands of the Greek police, Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos told a specially-convened press conference. Krambis will stand trial with another 10 alleged accomplices for the kidnapping and murder of Giorgos Nikolaidis, 45, and Soula Kalathaki, 32, whose decomposed bodies were found in the countryside at Sesi, near Grammatiko in northern Attica. After avoiding several Greek extradition requests while in detention in a British prison, in May Krambis played his last card by seeking political asylum in the UK, arguing that he could face capital punishment if condemned in Greece. He tried several times to postpone his extradition, Stathopoulos said. When all his lawyers’ efforts failed and it was certain that his extradition was a matter of days, he said he was coming back of his own free will. Krambis says he can prove he was in prison in Italy at the time of the murders. Stathopoulos, who was criticized in Greece for his failure to get Krambis extradited, said that, along with the ministers of foreign affairs and public order, he had been in constant contact with the British government since May. And he argued that, had he lost patience and refused to respond to British extradition requests, Krambis might have walked free on a technicality.