NEWS

Zoniana trial wrapped up

Almost one year after the trial began of 41 people accused of being involved in criminal activity in the notorious Cretan mountain area of Zoniana, 28 have been convicted by a court in Piraeus that was hearing the case. The village became front-page news in November 2007, when locals ambushed a police convoy and seriously injured an officer. The 28 were convicted on Friday of a series of criminal offenses that were linked to the activity of gangs based in Zoniana. Among these were robbery, drug offenses, cultivating hashish and forming a criminal gang. In connection with the ambush of the police convoy, two of the six originally charged with taking part were found guilty of being accessories but the other four were found innocent. One of the 28 received a life sentence, while the remaining 27 were given jail terms ranging from six to 25 years, as the court took into account their previous clean records. Zoniana has become synonymous with the November 5 attack in 2007 that left officer Stathis Lazaridis paralyzed from the neck down after some of the village residents opened fire on a group of policemen that was sent there to break up criminal gangs. The trial, which began last May, was immediately gripped by controversy as the officer’s wife decided to drop her civil suit against the alleged perpetrators. Lazaridis’s wife did not specify her reasons for withdrawing as civil plaintiff in the trial but was believed to have been intimidated. «I cannot tell you the reasons but there are many,» Maria Lazaridou told the court at the time. «If Stathis was here, he could make the decisions. I just want him to get better and for the perpetrators to be punished,» she added. Lazaridis’s father blamed the local police chief for his son being injured, claiming the raid on the village had been badly planned and executed.