Police crack extortion ring in Athens suburbs

Three members of an alleged ring of extortionists swindling thousands of euros from owners of businesses in the southern suburbs have been arrested, police in Athens said yesterday. The three men – all Greeks, aged 24, 40 and 49 – are charged with selling protection to at least two entrepreneurs in the suburb of Aghios Dimitrios and with demanding a down payment of 25,000 euros from another businessman in Ano Kalamaki. It was unclear if the establishments targeted were nightclubs or other businesses. Another six suspected ring members are being sought, according to police, who believe that the protection racket has blackmailed many more people in the broader area. The victims of the alleged extortion gave police details about their experiences but reportedly have refused to testify before an investigating magistrate for fear of reprisals.