NEWS

Passaris informer dies

Two Korydallos convicts were charged yesterday with the prison murder on Thursday of a remanded Albanian bank robber who is believed to have helped police in their hunt for Greece’s most wanted criminal, Costas Passaris. The suspects, extortion gangster Spyros Christopoulos, 32, and self-confessed murderer Peter Sedholm, 32, a US citizen wanted in his country for two murders, occupy the cell in the Piraeus prison’s A Wing where Constantin Papa was found hanged on Thursday afternoon. The death of Papa, 33, was the third this year in congested Korydallos, which holds 2,174 inmates, despite having been designed for 640. Both Christopoulos and Sedholm had close links with the once-powerful Grigorakos crime clan – whose last male member died in prison on January 31, the day Sedholm entered Korydallos. Furthermore, Christopoulos is understood to hold Papa responsible for his own capture with a load of arms in October, three weeks after he failed to return to Korydallos – where he was serving a 16.5-year sentence for robbery and extortion – from a furlough. Papa was arrested, on January 31 for a string of bank robberies (in some of which he is believed to have cooperated with Passaris), in the southern Athens flat of Giorgos Tsakoyiannis, an extortion racket member and sworn enemy of the Grigorakos gang to which he had once belonged. Papa received a three-year sentence. Although police were already treating him leniently due to his alleged assistance on Passaris, they also informed prison authorities that the Albanian was on bad terms with Christopoulos, but guards allotted him Cell 100 in A Wing. Christopoulos and Sedholm were next door, at number 98. Papa was found hanged by the neck with a couple of knotted sheets, and his death was initially treated as suicide. But coroner Ilias Boyiakos found he had been strangled beforehand, prompting a criminal investigation. Furthermore, Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos yesterday ordered an internal investigation into the circumstances of Papa’s death, and to ascertain whether prison workers had been remiss in their duties. Police sources said Papa had given detectives information that led to last year’s raid on a flat in the Neos Cosmos district of Athens where Passaris – on the run for the murder of two policemen – had been hiding. The operation was a fiasco, and Papa went into hiding in Albania fearing Passaris’s retribution. Sedholm, who undertook transatlantic drug deliveries for the Grigorakos clan, requested – and received – a life sentence last month for the 1990 murder of his girlfriend in Glyfada. If extradited to the USA, he could face the death penalty.