Bombers fooled security staff of marked minister

A parcel bomb that detonated on Thursday night next to the office of Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, killing the minister’s 52-year-old aide, had not been sent directly to the ministry building but mailed to Chrysochoidis’s political office and transferred from there to the ministry two days later, police sources told Kathimerini yesterday. According to the same sources, the package had been marked with a name and address, ostensibly of the sender. But the signature, «Christos Karavelas, Ekali,» appears to have been a stab at dark humor by the terrorists as Karavelas is a former Siemens Hellas executive who has been implicated in the cash-for-contracts scandal embroiling the electronics and engineering firm and who continues to elude arrest. Sources told Kathimerini that the package sat in Chrysochoidis’s political office for two days before its transfer on Thursday to the ministry building in Katehaki, east of the city center, one of the best-guarded addresses in Greece. Ironically, it was probably close aides of the minister or even members of his security detail who brought the package into the ministry building. There the package was opened by Giorgos Vassilakis, who sorted all the minister’s mail. The bomb, which had been wrapped up and resembled a gift, exploded in Vassilakis’s hands, killing him instantly. According to police, the device consisted of half a kilogram of gunpowder and ammonium nitrate and had been packed into a cardboard box. Counterterrorism officers yesterday were seeking to determine how the bomb made its way past an airport-style X-ray machine at the main entrance to the ministry building and all the way up to the seventh floor where the adjacent offices of Chrysochoidis and Vassilakis are located. Police officials admitted yesterday that the X-ray machine does not contain a bomb detector so it is possible that security staff at the ministry saw the package pass through machine without realizing what it was. In Parliament yesterday all the party leaders condemned the attack. Prime Minister George Papandreou said Greek society would not be terrorized. «The murderers should know that they will fail because they have the entire state and society against them,» he said.