Police follow trail left by Palaiocostas

The most wanted robber in Greece, Nikos Palaiocostas, was under armed police guard in the Laiko Hospital in Athens yesterday as authorities began investigating his activities over the past 16 years on the run in the hope of finding clues that will also lead them to his fugitive brother. Palaiocostas, 45, suffered a broken arm and slight bruising as he tried to escape from police near the village of Livadi, in Viotia, on Wednesday. He was caught after losing control of his car, which overturned in a ditch. The vehicle was taken to police headquarters in Athens so forensic experts can analyze it for fingerprints, sources said. Officers found several firearms in the car. Police also think they will be able to garner vital information from Palaiocostas’s mobile phone, which the convicted robber had in his possession, as it may point them to his brother, Vassilis, who escaped from Korydallos Prison in a helicopter three months ago. Officers will check Nikos Palaiocostas’s fingerprints against evidence found at scenes of various robberies. Palaiocostas has 37 convictions and 30 arrest warrants against his name. He was tracked down 13 times by police but managed to escape every time. Officers will also try to track down the money that Greece’s most famous fugitive amassed during his time on the run. His most famous coup was the 1995 abduction of industrialist Alexandros Haitoglou, who was released for 260 million drachmas (763,000 euros). Police yesterday dismissed suggestions that Palaiocostas gave away much of his money to poor people. Instead, they are investigating whether he funneled it into foreign bank accounts.