NEWS

Surveillance helped get kidnappers

Using sophisticated electronics to break down phone calls made by a gang of kidnappers to their captive’s family last year, detectives have succeeded in arresting two men on suspicion of participating in the $1.15 million kidnapping, police said yesterday. After police questioned them throughout Tuesday, yesterday an Athens prosecutor charged Christoforos Lasithiotakis, 42, and Iranian national Albert Norusnia, also 42, with kidnapping Ioannis Zonas, a 34-year-old Piraeus businessman’s son, on October 2. Zonas was kept blindfolded and handcuffed for 63 days before being released, unharmed, in Pallini on the eastern outskirts of Athens, after his family paid the ransom. Both he and his father – who spoke to the kidnappers on the phone – recognized the two suspects’ voices. A police electronic voice-identifying system confirmed that Lasithiotakis, a suspected protection racketeer, and Norusnia, a motorcycle garage owner, had spoken in the (taped) telephone conversations. According to police sources, the electronic system has an infinitesimal margin of error, similar to that of DNA testing. A search of Norusnia’s garage revealed 15 $100 notes whose serial numbers matched bills given as part of the ransom. Attica security police chief Giorgos Angelakos said detectives had originally traced Lasithiotakis through a mobile phone found in his home, allegedly used for the ransom negotiations. They were able to pinpoint the source of the calls despite the fact that Lasithiotakis had used four different chips in the device. The shipping documents identified the sender as the Colombian company Comercializadora Vega and the recipient as Don ABEE, based in Kallithea, Athens.