NEWS

Purge follows jailbreak

The governor of Greece’s largest jail along with the chief warden and six of his subordinates were suspended yesterday following Monday’s escape of a US murderer implicated in the prison cyanide killing of a major underworld boss. A Korydallos female prison psychologist who – apparently out of love – helped the convict walk out disguised as a doctor was also suspended. Olga Atzamoglou, a 45-year-old mother of two, was also charged with intentionally freeing prisoner Peter Sedhom, 32 – a misdemeanor charge. Six prison guards will face misdemeanor charges of negligence in the escape of the convicted killer and protection gangster. Wearing a new suit, sunglasses and a wig, Sedhom walked out of the high-security prison in southwestern Athens around 4.30 p.m., in the company of Atzamoglou who introduced him to the guards as a visiting colleague. Only at the last of four security checks were Sedhom’s credentials questioned, as the guard found no record of him in the day’s visitors’ book. But the prison psychologist, a Czech national who had worked at Korydallos for two years, produced a medical ID card for her companion, and both walked out. It was not until the 9 p.m. roll-call that the absence of Sedhom – who, in 2000 to avoid extradition to the USA and a possible death sentence for two murders, confessed to murdering his girlfriend – was noticed. It was then that the guards at the gate recalled Atzamoglou’s visitor, and a search of her surgery produced Sedhom’s prison clothes. The prison authorities notified Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, who arrived at 10 p.m. and stayed for four and a half hours. Coming just three months after two notorious criminals were murdered in Korydallos – Sedhom has been charged with the one killing and the other victim was his estranged former crime boss – the escape was a major embarrassment for a government that has repeatedly failed to reform the prison system. «It was a particularly unpleasant event, and I think it is a significant problem,” government spokesman Christos Protopappas offered yesterday. Petsalnikos suspended Korydallos Governor Georgios Marinaros and chief warden Antonis Aravantinos – replacing them with Spyros Athanassopoulos and Christos Thomopoulos – as well as six guards. An investigation was ordered into the incident. Atzamoglou’s car was found yesterday parked in the Votanikos area. The US government requested New York native Sedhom’s extradition in 1998, while he was still serving a sentence for drug trafficking and extortion with the Grigorakos crime family which is now defunct after a vicious gang war.