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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-02-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Authorities foil attempted helicopter prison escape

  • [01] Authorities foil attempted helicopter prison escape

    AMNA---Investigations were taking place on Monday under stringent security measures at the Trikala penitentiary after an attempted prison break by notorious inmate Panagiotis Vlastos by helicopter was foiled by authorities on Sunday.

    Vlastos attempted, on Sunday afternoon, to escape from Trikala prison with a helicopter, but the helicopter was pinned to the ground by fire from prison wardens and guards.

    According to the reports, the helicopter was spotted by guards when it attempted to lift the electrified net, an exchange of fire followed and the helicopter was eventually pinned down in the prison's parking lot.

    Vlastos has been sentenced twice to life imprisonment and to 25 years in prison for his participation in the so-called "crime syndicate", and has also been accused masterminding the kidnapping for ransom of shipowner Pericles Panagopoulos in January 2009, giving orders from his prison cell at Trikala prison, where he was serving time for homicides, protection rackets and other offences.

    According to an announcement by the Thessaly police headquarters, a helicopter with four people on board approached the Trikala prison at 16:45 on Sunday, at which time the people on board the helicopter opened fire on police and prison guards who returned the shots, forcing the helicopter to land in a space next to the prison due to engine failure from the gunshots, while the four on board were arrested.

    Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis, who was headed to the prison on Monday, revealed earlier that the authorities had received information since last summer that caution should be taken at several prisons, including Trikala, as an escape was being planned.

    Given the information, increased security measures were taken. "We took specific measures, instructions were given, and with the self-sacrifice manifested by the guards, the escape was averted," Roupakiotis said on state NET television.

    In an announcement, the Justice Ministry said that four people were on board the helicopter: its pilot, a mechanic, a Greek national and an Albanian national.

    The Ministry said that the four people on board the helicopter were heavily armed, including a Kalashnikov firearm and home-made explosive devices and were wearing bulletproof vests.amna

    The helicopter approached the prison yard and attempted to throw down a rope ladder to Vlastos, who was in the yard at the time outside his wing, while the four on board opened fire against the outside guards, who immediately returned the fire. An estimated 300-400 shots were fired during the exchange

    The helicopter pilot was slightly injured in the exchange of fire, the Ministry said.

    According to reports, Vlastos attempted twice to climb the rope ladder, but on the second attempt feel to the ground and suffered injuries to his hands and legs.

    Roupakiotis warmly congratulated the prison warden and guards for averting the attempted jailbreak. amna

    Vlastos had attempted once again to escape from Korydallos prison in December 2011, taking hostages at the time.

    This was the third attempted prison escape by helicopter. Greece's most wanted criminal Vassilis Paleokostas and Albanian convict Alket Rizaj escaped Korydallos high-security prison by helicopter in February 2009, in a repeat of their Hollywood-style escape from the same prison in June 2006.

    Vassilis Paleokostas was re-captured in August 2009 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 ransom.amna

    Rizaj was captured three months after the escape in the coastal village of Prodromos in Viotia prefecture.

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