NEWS

Anti-terror officer shot dead

An anti-terrorism police officer who had been guarding a witness in a terrorism trial was shot dead yesterday in an early morning raid by gunmen outside the witness’s home in the Athens district of Ano Patissia. Nektarios Savvas, 41, had been sitting in his car when he was attacked by gunmen who shot him more than 20 times, police said. There had been no claim of responsibility for the attack by late yesterday but police said ballistics tests on the two pistols had linked one of the weapons to a far-left militant group called Sect of Revolutionaries which first emerged in February with an attack on a police station in the suburb of Korydallos. The Korydallos hit, and a subsequent attack on the premises of private television station Alter, were ostensibly in retaliation for the police killing of a teenager in Exarchia last December. «There was no warning, no telephone calls. This is the work of terrorists,» police spokesman Panayiotis Stathis said, adding that 24 empty cartridge cases had been found at the scene. Savvas had been in plain clothes and in an unmarked vehicle but locals claimed to have been aware of his role as a witness protection officer. The 41-year-old had been just 20 minutes into his shift, which began at 6 a.m., when the masked assailants appeared and started shooting him at nearly point blank range in the head and chest. The gunmen, and a third man believed to have acted as a lookout, then fled on two motorcycles, according to witnesses. Savvas had been assigned to guard Sofia Kyriakidou, a state witness in the 2004 trial of four members of People’s Revolutionary Struggle (ELA). The four, including Kyriakidou’s husband, received heavy jail sentences but have since been released, most on grounds of ill health.