‘Gang of 16’ may be even bigger

The so-called «Gang of 16» which is accused of kidnapping ferry tycoon Pericles Panagopoulos and committing a host of other crimes could be even larger than first thought, sources told Kathimerini yesterday. Police are currently investigating the extensive network of connections that the gang, and particularly its alleged masterminds, convict Panayiotis Vlastos and businessman Giorgos Tromboukis, had with people who were not members of the criminal underworld. The gang had ties with public officials and otherwise respectable members of society, sources said. Tromboukis’s role in particular is under scrutiny as he was a subcontractor on a number of public works projects. Vlastos’s lawyer has already been charged with aiding and abetting the gang. Elisavet Pouliou is alleged to have helped Vlastos by providing information that would help him plan a bomb attack against a prison warden and helping the gang get hold of electronic detonators. However, sources said that as many as five more people could be charged with being accomplices to the gang’s activities. They are likely to face charges soon. Two prison wardens have already been suspended on suspicion of agreeing to transfer members of the gang to other jails. Deputy Supreme Court prosecutor Anastassios Kanellopoulos is due to begin an investigation next week into activities at all of Greece’s correctional facilities in a bid to stamp out corruption. Meanwhile, a lawyer representing Pouliou was yesterday called to appear before an Athens Bar Association (ABA) disciplinary committee after being accused of breaching the ABA’s code of ethics, which stipulates that attorneys should not appear on TV to discuss pending legal cases.