NEWS

Zonas case tied to one in Crete?

Following last week’s arrest of two suspects for the 63-day abduction for ransom of a Piraeus businessman, police are now investigating the possibility that the same gang was behind a kidnapping in Crete nearly six years ago. On Wednesday, an Athens prosecutor charged Christoforos Lasithiotakis, 42, and Iranian national Albert Norusnia, 42, with kidnapping Ioannis Zonas, 34, on October 2. Zonas was released following payment of $1.15 million in ransom. Detectives have found several similarities between that abduction and the kidnapping, in March 1996, of businessman Michalis Metaxas in Crete. The 35-year-old had been held captive for about a month, before being freed when his family paid ransom of 50 million drachmas. According to police sources, it is «almost certain» that the same people are behind the planning – if not the execution – of the two kidnappings. In both cases, police suspect that the mastermind was a convict in the Halikarnannos prison, near Iraklion in north-central Crete. Both their careers have been built around the ethnic divisions which briefly turned Cyprus into a battleground of the Mediterranean in the 1970s.