Police shake-up for Crete

The government yesterday said it was committed to combatting organized crime in Zoniana and anywhere else in the country, stressing that police on Crete would be restructured and subject to closer control. «The scourge of tolerance and suppression will be purged,» Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told parliament’s transparency committee, adding that authorities were targetting «specific enclaves of criminality.» As far as the village of Zoniana is concerned, Pavlopoulos said, the government’s four priorities are: imposing order, investigating other parts of the island, improving residents’ quality of life and establishing whether cases of drug trafficking had been shelved by local prosecutors. Pavlopoulos’s deputy, Panayiotis Hinofitis, said a presidential decree, providing for the restructuring of police on Crete and the creation of a special counter-terrorism unit in Iraklion, would be drafted within the month. The decree also stipulates that officers will not be able to serve in their native village and envisages regular monitoring of police operations. Meanwhile, officers investigating last week’s bloody assault on a police convoy outside Zoniana said they were close to identifying eight of the 20 gunmen that opened fire on it with Kalashnikovs. Police yesterday continued to search homes, stores, farms and caves in the broader area of Milopotamos, discovering more guns and cannabis. A team of internal affairs officers from Athens arrived on the island to probe local money-laundering activities and possible links between police and criminals. A probe meanwhile continued into claims that anti-tank rocket launchers maybe hidden on the island, similar to those used in an attack on the US embassy in Athens in January. Also yesterday, Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas requested the results of an inquiry into Rethymnon’s former chief of police, Ilias Mantas, who has been charged with abuse of power.