NEWS

Fugitive eludes police, again

A massive police hunt was under way in western Attica last night for a man, believed to be the escaped convict Vassilis Palaiocostas, who evaded a police roadblock in a sports utility vehicle near the coastal town of Alepohori and fled on foot after the pursuing officers shot out his tires. Police suspicions were all but confirmed late yesterday when fingerprints discovered on the abandoned SUV were found to match those of Palaiocostas and Albanian convict Alket Rizai. The pair escaped together from Korydallos Prison in February in a spectacular helicopter jailbreak modeled on a virtually identical breakout in 2006. As police helicopters and patrol cars scoured western Attica last night by air and land, sources said Palaiocostas was believed to be hiding in the area’s Geraneia Mountains. Sources said police units were dispatched to monitor the area a few days ago following reported sightings there of the 43-year-old serial robber. When the black SUV failed to stop at a police roadblock shortly after midnight on Monday, officers’ suspicions were raised. A chase ensued for about 3 kilometers until police stopped the SUV by shooting at its tires. The suspect then reportedly abandoned the vehicle and disappeared into a nearby forest. A check on the SUV determined that it was a stolen vehicle with fake license plates, copied from another black SUV to create confusion. A search inside the vehicle turned up a Kalashnikov automatic rifle and five mobile telephones whose batteries had been removed to reduce traceability. The police forensic unit took the evidence in for examination yesterday.