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New evidence of a connection between criminals and the new generation of terrorists

25 February 2013 / 15:02:47  GRReporter
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A Greek and an Albanian aged around 30 years were the passengers of the helicopter, by which recidivist Panagiotis Vlastos tried to escape from the prison in Trikala. Both are old acquaintances of the police, whose attention they drew in the past for their involvement in attacks for robbery, drug trafficking and other criminal activities. The Greek had been in the prison in Domokos until recently and was released a few months ago.

After the unsuccessful attempt, Panagiotis Vlastos is still in the infirmary of the prison in Trikala, as he fell and broke his arm during his attempt to board the helicopter.

According to sources, phone calls and pieces of information from the guards in the summer of 2012 the Ministry of Justice had been informed in advance that an attempt for his escape was being prepared.

During the investigation on the case of the kidnapping of ship-owner Pericles Panagopoulos three years ago, Vlastos was accused of organizing an attempt on the life of the head of the prison in Trikala.

If yesterday's attempted escape had succeeded, it would have been the third similar escape from prison. The helicopter was rented in Aspropyrgos, Athens and according to the flight plan, it was to fly to Thessaloniki. When the pilot was over Larissa, two passengers threatened him. So, he said that the helicopter was damaged and changed the direction to the prison in the nearby town of Trikala.

According to sources, the helicopter was rented from the same company from which the one used for the first escape of Alket Rizai and Vassilis Paleokostas from the prison in Korydallos in 2006 had been rented. It seems that it was even the same aircraft.

The events took place in the following way: the passengers in the helicopter opened fire on the prison guards to divert their attention and help Vlastos get on board. The staff reacted immediately and responded to the gunfire as soon as they saw the helicopter landing on the roof, thus preventing the attempted escape and the helicopter from taking off.

Representatives of the guards claim that at least 500 shots were exchanged during the shooting. Even under this rain of whistling bullets, the attackers tried to help Vlastos get on board the helicopter twice.

During the second attempt, the recidivist, who is sentenced to life in prison, fell from the ladder and broke his arm. A gunshot wounded one of the four passengers in the helicopter. It has become clear subsequently that the criminal "saviours" of Vlastos were armed with a Kalashnikov gun and an Uzi submachine gun. They had thrown another weapon on the roof of the prison, which the guards found later.

Police authorities are not investigating the case just as an attempted escape by a dangerous recidivist. A few days ago, during a raid in another hiding place of the terrorist group "Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei", they found a plan for the escape of two of their members from the prison in Korydallos by helicopters.

The fact that Panagiotis Vlastos had organized his previous attempted escape with other members of the same group is only enhancing the police doubts about the possible cooperation between criminals and terrorists. In December 2011, they tried to escape from the prison in Korydallos - by using weapons, they seized hostage the relatives of other inmates during the visit. Then, Vlastos was transferred to the prison in Trikala.

He was charged for various murders and organizing the kidnapping of the owner of a shipping company Pericles Panagopoulos. The kidnappers released him after more than 10 days after receiving a ransom to the amount of 30 million euro from his wife. The organizers and the participants were convicted of kidnapping, but the money was never found.

Police sources, however, state that so far, there has been no "evidence to suggest coordination in the attempted escapes by helicopter". They believe that the "nuclei" had probably planned the "liberation" of their fellows after the bank robbery in Velvendo.

The previous two escapes by helicopter were successful. The prisoners Alket Rizai and Vassilis Paleokostas escaped from the prison in Korydallos in 2006 and 2009. According to publications in the Greek media, no actions against the renting of helicopters by armed criminals and the organization of such escapes from the prisons have been subsequently taken despite the promises.


Tags: Crime newsEscapePrisonHelicopterPanagiotis VlastosPericles PanagopoulosConspiracy of Fire Nuclei
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