Help on way for Crete probe

The judicial investigation into illegal activity in the village of Zoniana on Crete is being stepped up after the Supreme Court yesterday assigned a prosecutor to the probe and asked him to travel to the island to oversee the process. Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas has asked his colleague, and one of the court’s deputy prosecutors, Kyriakos Karoutsos to head the investigation taking place in the Mylopotamos area of Crete. Authorities are looking into the illicit drug trading allegedly taking place in Zoniana and the illegal possession of firearms among villagers. They are also hunting for the person or persons who shot at a police convoy earlier this month, seriously injuring an officer in the head. One of Karoutsos’s tasks will be to establish whether criminals in the area have been enjoying the cooperation of members of the police force, judiciary or any other authority in order to engage in illegal activity on the island. Karoutsos will remain on Crete for «as long as necessary» as there is no indication how long the investigation will take. Searches of 14 abandoned homes and four new properties yesterday failed to yield any more evidence of criminal activity but a number of weapons were found in a cave. Seven people were charged yesterday with forming a gang after police raids in the area of Mesara, which can be reached from Zoniana via a dirt track. Police have arrested three of the suspects who, officers claim, were part of a gang which extorted money from local store owners. The gang was also involved in procuring women, according to police. One of those accused has alleged business links to a former Iraklion MP.