NEWS

Off-duty policeman shot dead by robber

An off-duty policeman was shot dead in Nikaia, near Piraeus, in broad daylight yesterday after pursuing an armed robber fleeing the scene of a bank raid, one of five robberies in Attica yesterday. According to police, 36-year-old Michalis Spanoudakis had been in a friend’s shop when he spotted the robber fleeing a nearby bank and gave chase. Witnesses said the off-duty officer caught up with the robber and appealed to him to turn himself in, explaining that he was a policeman. The robber responded by firing his gun four times, hitting the officer in the chest. The 36-year-old, who was shot near the entrance to a school, was dead by the time an ambulance arrived. The officer had been carrying a gun but did not draw it in time, a senior officer at Attica’s police headquarters told Kathimerini. «He did not draw his gun, maybe because he intended to corner the robber first,» the officer said, noting that the pouch containing the gun had been unzipped. The officer, the father of a 40-day-old baby, was based at the Palaio Faliron police station. Police sources noted yesterday that bank robberies have increased in frequency, with at least four carried out in Attica daily, adding that more and more perpetrators are resorting to violence. The sources attributed the development to the recent release of hundreds of convicts nearing the end of their terms as part of a government plan to reduce overcrowding at prisons. Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis expressed his condolences but praised the 36-year-old for his sense of duty. «His actions express the ethos that governs the police force and demonstrates the conscientiousness of officers,» he said.