Two officers held after detainee flees

In another embarassment for the beleaguered police force, two Athens officers faced a prosecutor yesterday on charges of neglect after an Afghan detainee managed to escape by impersonating another prisoner of Palestinian origin and attending the latter’s trial where he was released pending appeal. The 24-year-old Afghan, who had been in detention on robbery charges, reportedly sneaked into a group of prisoners being transferred to the city’s main court complex at Evelpidon for trial on Thursday morning. The Afghan then stood trial on the charges of illegal entry and drug dealing faced by the Palestinian. The Afghan then was issued a four-month jail sentence, which he appealed, and was released pending his hearing. According to sources, it took the police several hours to realize that the identity of the detainees had not been checked properly prior to the transfer. On Thursday afternoon, the two officers who had been on duty at the Omonia police station on the day the transfer took place were arrested. They faced a prosecutor in Athens yesterday. It was unclear whether another four officers who had escorted the group of seven prisoners to Evelpidon would also face charges. In a more blatant gaffe by police early last month, two handcuffed detainees escaped from officers who had been escorting them to the Evelpidon court complex. The fugitives, a Georgian and a Kazakh, had faced trial for a supermarket raid. Police have been under particular pressure to boost security in the guarding and transfer of detainees since February when two notorious convicts escaped from Attica’s Korydallos Prison by helicopter, a repeat of their 2006 breakout from the same institution.