State body to target jail graft

Justice Minister Nikos Dendias yesterday heralded the creation of a team of «incorruptibles» to avert crime and corruption in the country’s jails following the implication of two prison governors in the operation of a crime ring known as the «Gang of 16.» The team, to be set up along the lines of the police’s internal affairs department, would comprise senior officials from correctional institutions and policemen, Dendias told reporters following talks with prison governors from around the country. The minister appealed to the governors to ensure the strict enforcement of a new legal provision banning inmates from using cellphones. He also heralded the creation of another state body that would be charged with monitoring the financial transactions of Greek jails. «We hope that these tools will help us to boost the quality of our fight against corruption in correctional institutions,» he said. Dendias added that a probe into the governors of two jails in Crete linked to the Gang of 16 indicated that the two were guilty of «serious omissions.» Michalis Kyriakakis, who heads Agia jail in the Cretan prefecture of Hania, and Emmanouil Kouyioumtzakis, the chief warden of Alikarnassos jail, also on Crete, have been temporarily suspended to allow their suspected links to crime gang members to be probed. But Dendias made it clear that the two men faced the risk of permanent dismissal on grounds of breach of duty. According to sources, taped telephone conversations feature conversations involving both prison officials apparently arranging for the transfer of alleged crime ring boss Panayiotis Vlastos from a jail in Trikala to one in Crete. Kyriakakis is alleged to display great interest in arranging Vlastos’s transfer, reassuring the convict’s wife that the move would take place after the June elections to the European Parliament.

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