NEWS

Bank robber was on furlough

One of the three robbers behind a dramatic, thwarted bank raid on the island of Alonissos earlier this week is a convict who committed the crime while out on a seven-day furlough, police said yesterday after catching the suspect in the central Athens district of Exarchia. The 38-year-old – one of two men who entered the branch of National Bank on the Sporades island on Tuesday wielding Kalashnikov assault rifles – has been serving a sentence at Agia Prison in the Cretan prefecture of Hania, police said. The conviction was for his part in a robbery at the Geniko Kratiko Hospital in Nikaia, near Piraeus, in 1995, during which a cashier was killed. Police traced the 38-year-old to his home in Koropi, eastern Attica, yesterday and followed him to Exarchia where they arrested him on central Solonos Street in the afternoon. Police said the suspect had been granted a furlough in the past and had returned as scheduled to jail. Officers investigating the bank raid on Alonissos, in which the assailants netted 1 million euros but dropped the loot during their getaway, said they had also identified the second gunman who entered the bank with the 38-year-old. Police admitted that they had no leads regarding the third suspect, who steered the speedboat on which the trio fled the island. It is believed that the perpetrators boarded another boat dispatched by accomplices to meet them out at sea. Police said they managed to trace the second gunman by using two cell phone numbers. One of the numbers was that of the cell phone used by one of the perpetrators to call police on Alonissos before the bank robbery and report a bogus brawl on the other side of the island as a distraction. The other cell phone had been used by one of the perpetrators to make a call to a local motorcycle rental store.