Police hunt contract killers

A police probe into the murders of at least three ethnic Greeks from the former Soviet Union has led officers to a Russian Mob believed to be arranging profitable contract killings. According to police, the gang has at least seven members – five Russians and two Greeks – who are allegedly paid 20,000 euros a hit to settle differences between Russians and ethnic Greeks over smuggling deals involving cigarettes, fuel and alcohol. The orders for the killings are believed to come from two men – one of whom is in a Russian jail. Members of the same gang were behind the murder of 42-year-old Constantinos Ioakimidis in Oraiokastro in August, police say. Ioakimidis was shot 25 times with a machine gun outside his home. The suspects have also been linked to the murders of Georgios Tsaklov and Georgios Tevrentsidis in Aspropyrgos in 2003 and Ioannis Perdikaris in Kallithea in 2004. Police are issuing international arrest warrants for the seven suspects, who are believed to have fled to Russia.