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Two persons have been captured for the arson of Marfin Bank

30 January 2013 / 18:01:06  GRReporter
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Three years after the arson of the Marfin Bank branch in Athens, which killed three bank officers, the Greek police are sending two suspects to the judicial authorities.

On 5 May 2010 during the massive protest procession against the signing of the first Memorandum of financial aid to Greece, several people set fire to the branch, enraged by the fact that it was open despite the Pan-Hellenic strike.

Three bank officers were unable to leave on time and were found dead after the suppression of the fire. Among them was a pregnant woman.

For 32 months, the authorities have been collecting and verifying the information provided by different witnesses, analyzing the silhouettes of the suspects involved in the arson attack from the videos from the security cameras.

Initially and based on the materials of the preliminary investigation, the prosecutor’s office in Athens began a criminal prosecution against all persons responsible for the act. Subsequently, allegations have emerged against the two suspects, who are expected to appear before a magistrate on Friday.

Photo: ethnos.gr

Today, "Ta Nea" newspaper published the testimonies of four witnesses who had helped the authorities to arrive at the two suspects. In their testimonies, the witnesses make nearly identical descriptions of the attackers who smashed the window of the bank on Stadiou Street and then, set it on fire despite the calls of other protesters to stop, because they were putting at risk the lives of the bank officers.

Two other persons who were initially interrogated as suspects are not held criminally responsible, because the authorities have not found sufficient evidence of their direct involvement in the arson. A woman also appears in the testimonies of the witnesses but she seems not to have been involved in the attack.

Almost all the witnesses cite as the main acting person a tall man, wearing a backpack and a cap. Two other shorter men, also wearing backpacks, were with him. All three were wearing gas masks during the attack. Another witness recognized a woman as a possible participant in the arson of the bank branch.

According to another witness, one of the attackers stood out as a "leader." He was older than the rest, whom he recognized as perpetrators of the attack.

The stories of the people who saw the events at the Marfin Bank branch from up close are shocking. One of them even says that they reminded him of pictures of the attacks on the two buildings of the World Trade Centre in New York on 11 September 2001.

Witness 1

"When the building of Marfin Bank began to burn I saw something that reminded me of the Twin Towers in New York. I saw an elderly man jumping from the second floor and falling on the roof of the adjacent building in order to save his life. As far as I learned, other people had been burned alive. We expected this to happen when we saw the Molotov cocktails. We were telling each other that the people would burn like mice."

When the participants in the protest procession saw the Molotov bombs, they began shouting, "Don’t do it, don’t do it," but the group of people with covered faces continued, they threw the bombs and then walked away towards Syntagma along with the protest procession."

In his testimony, he describes the attackers: "Almost immediately after the attack on the Yiannos bookshop ended we saw a group of over 10 people with covered faces that began smashing the windows of Marfin Bank with hammers. I think they were not the people who had caused the damage to the bookshop. The people, who smashed the windows of the bank, threw inside at least two Molotov bombs or even more. We knew that there were people inside because we had seen them earlier on the balconies and so, we rushed to help with the fire extinguishers. When the participants in the protest procession saw the Molotov bombs, they began shouting, "Don’t do it, don’t do it," but the group of people with covered faces continued, they threw the bombs and then walked away towards Syntagma along with the protest procession."

The witness also describes the events before the attack on the bank. He was in the bookshop and he was watching the procession through the window. "Then, the people with covered faces started hitting the window with wooden sticks. One of them shouted to the others: "No, we broke up the bookshop before." Then, two others came, who were holding hammers; they smashed the glass doors and threw Molotov bombs in the bookshop. We went down from the middle floor, took the fire extinguishers in hand and started fighting against the attackers. One of them yelled, "What are you doing? We will burn you."

Witness 2

Then I saw a third young man come in. He was wearing a ski mask to hide his face and a black shirt. When he came to me, I said, "What are you doing? There are people up there..."And he said, "We will burn you all." At this point, one of the men working in the bookshop intervened and the young man poured gasoline over three other people and me."The police consider critical the testimony of an employee at the Yiannos bookshop. "At two o'clock in the afternoon, the protest procession was proceeding normally. Then I saw a man dressed in black holding an object in his hand and using it to smash the window of Marfin Bank, which is opposite the bookshop. He was tall and thin. When the window was smashed another man of medium height, also in black clothes, wearing a mask on his face and backpack on his back, threw a Molotov bomb at the bank. We left the bookshop holding fire extinguishers to extinguish the fire. I asked the tall man, "What are you doing? There are women, there are people up there." Then the tall man said, "Take them all out." I went back to the bookshop and began to extinguish the fire. Just when we were able to extinguish it, I suddenly saw another Molotov bomb, which started a new fire. I saw that another youth had thrown it. Then I saw a third young man come in. He was wearing a ski mask to hide his face and a black shirt. When he came to me, I said, "What are you doing? There are people up there..."And he said, "We will burn you all." At this point, one of the men working in the bookshop intervened and the young man poured gasoline over three other people and me."

Witness 3

The third witness tells of three people who were in front of the window of the bank. Here's how he describes the events: "The two shorter men were smashing the window with a metal object. One of them was holding a backpack, from which he poured some liquid inside the bank. The tall man took out some objects from his backpack and threw them inside the bank. Another 6-7 people around them were helping them. When they implemented the attack and set fire to the bank, this group walked down the sidewalk towards Syntagma Square."

The particular witness passed among the attackers who were walking towards the square and described one by one those who in his opinion had played a major role. When at the end of May 2010 he was called to the police to help in identifying the attackers, he singled out their pictures among many others, fully confident in his choice.

Witness 4

"Why did you burn it? We told you to intimidate them, not to burn them or the bank...," cried in the underground a woman suspected of involvement in the arson of Marfin Bank. She expressed in this way her disagreement with the two men, who are supposed to have been actively involved in the attack.
 
I heard the woman yelling at the two men: "Why did you burn it, guys? We told you to intimidate them, not to burn them or the bank."

The witness went to the police to testify when she associated the above dialogue, which she had accidentally heard in the underground, with the arson of the bank. The woman, who is an economist by profession, gave the following testimony two days after the deadly attack: "At 2:20 pm on 5 May 2010, I was at the "Panepistimio" underground station, near the entrance of Kozani Square. I was going up the stairs to go outside. When I started climbing, I saw two tall thin young men and a woman coming.  They were going down the stairs running, as someone was chasing them. They were literally in panic and pushing the people to go. When we met at the stairs, I heard the woman yelling at the two men, "Why did you burn it, guys? We told you to intimidate them not to burn them or the bank." I do not remember exactly whether she said the bank or the people inside. She was short, about 1.60 m tall. She was dressed in black, her face was somewhat tired, her hair was black and she was in a panic. I did not look at the men as they were pushing the people to get past and I was scared. I learned later that Marfin Bank had been set on fire and two women and one man were burned there and unwittingly I made a connection between the two things."

The police investigation is going on in order to find the other participants in the attack.

Tags: Crime newsArsonMarfin BankVictimsWitnesses
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