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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-02-23

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Marginal decline at ASE opening
  • [02] Investigations on chopper escape

  • [01] Marginal decline at ASE opening

    Equity prices were mixed at the opening of trade on Monday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index down 0.02 percent, standing at 1,600.94 points at 10:45 a.m., and turnover at 5.6 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving mostly upward, with the biggest gains in Personal & Household Goods, up 2.55 percent; Construction, up 0.78 percent; and Health, up 0.78 percent.

    The biggest losses were in Food & Beverage, down 2.25 percent; Raw Materials, down 0.46 percent; and Banks, down 0.34 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was down 0.19 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was up 1.04 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was up 0.49 percent.

    Of the stocks moved, 51 were up, 21 were down, and 26 were unchanged.

    [02] Investigations on chopper escape

    A case file for participation in Sunday's repeat helicopter escape by convicted felon Vassilis Paleokostas and Albanian convict Alket Rizaj from Korydallos prison has been drafted against the helicopter's pilot and two prison guards, the latter two for failure to react properly. All three will be referred to the Piraeus Prosecutor's office.

    The three are charged with participation in the prison escape, in accordance with the provisions of Article 173 of the Penal Code.

    Late Sunday night, Justice Minister Nikos Dendias, whose portfolio includes correctional facilities, announced that he had requested and received the resignations of three top officials, two justice ministry secretaries and the penitentiary's warden, while stressing that an appellate-level prosecutor has been asked to officially open an investigation.

    Dendias has further sought from the relevant authority the opening of the bank accounts of the prison employees of Korydallos' Third Wing, where the two escapees were incarcerated.

    Paleokostas and Rizaj again became Greece's most wanted fugitives on Sunday after escaping again by helicopter, in an unprecedented repeat of their Hollywood-style escape from the same prison on June 4, 2006 during which they were spirited away from the courtyard of Korydallos prison near Piraeus, in a spectacular operation masterminded by Paleokostas' brother Nikos, then a fugitive from justice.

    Vassilis Paleokostas was re-captured on August 2 in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, and was named by police as the mastermind of the abduction two months earlier of Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE) president and Alumil aluminum industry CEO George Mylonas outside Thessaloniki, who was later released after his family paid a hefty ranson.

    Rizaj was captured three months after the escape in the coastal village of Prodromos in Viotia prefecture, while fugitive Nikos Paleokostas was arrested a few weeks afterwards near Livadia, also in Viotia prefecture, after years of eluding police capture.

    Attica security police investigating the case believe that this second escape was organized by Rizaj, with money supplied by Vassilis Paleokostas.

    They also said that a key role was played by a 35-year-old woman who chartered the helicopter from the private Interjet air charter company. The woman, and her male accomplice, are both believed to be foreign nationals, possibly Albanian.

    The woman, posing as a businesswoman, had approached Interject twice, chartering a helicopter twice on February 13 and 15, with which she flew to Itea.

    On Sunday, the same woman telephoned the company and asked for a helicopter to pick her up from Itea with, as she said, her two children. When the helicopter arrived in Itea and set down at the pre-designated spot, the woman appared with a 35-year-old man in a Toyota Corolla car. When the helicopter pilot asked where the children were, the woman replied that the man accompanying her would be boarding instead of the children. When the pilot asked for the man's name, he muttered something incomprehensible, and finally gave a name that sounded like "Tsigas".

    The pilot allowed the two to board, and took off in the direction of Athens. Upon reaching the outskirts of Attica prefecture, the man took out a hand grenade and held it under the pilot's neck, threatening him also with a knife, and told him to head to Korydallos penitentiary.

    When the pilot replied that he could not do so because there the flight plan did not include that destination, the two passengers told him that if he didn't take them to Korydallos all three of them would die. The pilot thus flew the helicopter over the Korydallos facility, and lowered altitude to roof height from where the two inmates were picked up by rope ladder.

    As the two inmates were climbing up the rope ladder to the helicopter, the woman was aiming at the prison guard on the rooftop guard post with a "Scorpion" automatic sub machine gun, and the guard did not react at all.

    The helicopter then headed for Kapandriti, where it landed in a field near the Afidnes toll post. The perpetrators tied up the pilot and placed a hood over his head, abandoning him there, and took off in two cars, believed to be luxury jeeps.

    Police said that the couple that hijacked the helicopter were receiving orders from Rizaj, who spoke to them via a wristwatch cell phone from inside the prison.

    A massive manhunt has been launched throughout Greece to locate Paleokostas and Rizaj, but no traces of the escaped convicts have been found.

    Justice ministry announcement: Helicopter hit by police gunshots

    According to a justice ministry announcement late Sunday night, the helicopter landed on the roof of the Korydallos prison's special holding facility at 3:47 p.m., which inmates Paleokostas and Rizaj, who were in the courtyard at the time, boarded using a rope ladder.

    During the process of landing and take-off, the three of the four outside guards of the prison on duty at the time, who had visual contact with the chopper, fired shots at the helicopter from a distance of 80-100 meters with their service weapons. The fourth guard, who was 15 meters away from the spot where the helicopter landed, was unable to make use of his service weapon, stating that he was threatened by firearms wielded by a man and a woman on board the helicopter.

    Shots were also fired against the helicopter by a member of a Greek Police detachment stationed in the outside environs of the prison compound.

    Despite the use of weapons by the three guards and policeman and the fact that the helicopter was hit by bullets, the escape was not averted.

    A disciplinary and penal investigation, on orders of justice minister Nikolaos Dendias, were underway into the precise circumstances of the incident, the announcement concluded.

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