Officer and smuggler’s third strike

A suspended policeman was arrested for the third time in two months yesterday by coast guards after landing a group of illegal immigrants on the eastern Aegean island of Icaria whom he had ferried over from Turkey on a 9-meter speedboat. Christos Demertzis, 44, had been arrested for the same crime on April 10 and May 3, and was suspended from the force but not detained. Yesterday, he was arrested together with crewman Nikolaos Hatzipavlou, 39, shortly after landing 26 Iraqis at Karkinagri, on Icaria. In April, Demertzis was arrested aboard the Turkish boat Mete as it was carrying 84 illegal immigrants toward the island of Chios. He had told the coast guard officers that the crew were friends of his who had asked him to come and help them with engine trouble. Demertzis had been suspended two months before his first arrest, after charges were pressed against him for smuggling and human trafficking. In separate incidents within 10 days of Demertzis’s first arrest, another two officers were arrested in Rhodes and Athens for bank robbery and attempted car theft.