Gang ‘leaders’ reject charges

The three inmates alleged to be the key players in the so-called «Gang of 16» which is thought to have been behind the kidnapping of a ferry tycoon earlier this year have all denied being involved in criminal activity. The suspects, Yiannis Skaftouros, Vassilis Stefanakos and Panayiotis Vlastos, allegedly the group’s mastermind, were questioned in prison yesterday by magistrate Harikleia Iliopoulou. All three deny being members of the alleged gang and argued that the secretly recorded conversations used to incriminate them had been fabricated by authorities. Skaftouros and Stefanakos said that the day after Panagopoulos was kidnapped, they appeared in court in Piraeus for an unrelated matter and could not have organized the abduction as they had been preparing for the case. Vlastos admitted having ties with businessman Giorgos Tromboukis, also a suspect, but denies engaging in anything illegal. Vlastos said that he simply gave Tromboukis checks to deposit in the bank on his behalf.