Photo: Vassilis Vifidis
The investigation of the case of the bank robbery and the murder of a 53-year-old taxi driver on the island of Paros continues rapidly. Authorities are analyzing the data of a cell phone that fell from the pocket of one of the otherwise perfectly prepared robbers during the confrontation with the victim.
According to sources, there was a call from the phone shortly before the robbery, which is expected to provide valuable information about the identity of the attackers, especially as the results of laboratory tests have not shed any light on the bloody robbery.
At the same time, it has been also assumed that one of the perpetrators was a Greek. According to an article in the online edition of To Vima newspaper, the police have expressed doubts about a 42-year-old man, who was convicted several times in the past and is currently wanted. The specific man was investigated and convicted for involvement in clashes with the police along with recidivist Costas Pasaris and the well-known brothers Nikos and Vassilis Paleokostas as well as for the murder of a prisoner of Albanian origin in Korydallos prison, for which he was later freed from guilt. There are many clues that the 42-year-old man was involved in dozens of burglaries in the area of Edipsos and on many islands.
Police are suspicious of his involvement in the robbery on the island of Paros due to the statements made by one of the robbers: "We do not rob the customers, only the cash-desks." The robbers of several banks in the region of Edipsos and Argolis area had made such a statement too, "We are poor Greeks and we are starving. It’s nothing to banks."
Police are at pressure not only in Paros, but also throughout Greece due to concerns that a wave of violence will follow when holidaymakers return. Successive bloody robberies, assaults for racist reasons, clashes between immigrant groups, bloody beatings between soccer hooligans and fears of the emergence of a new "guerrilla struggle in the city" after the disappearance of the leader of the terrorist group Revolutionary Struggle Nikos Maziotis compile a highly explosive mixture.
The murder of the taxi driver in Paros, of the Iraqi, aged 20, in central Athens and the dozens of attacks against foreigners are considered indicative developments of what will follow in the coming months.
Along with it, the police expect a very hot autumn with dozens of protests, some of which may involve clashes of anarchists, members of far right organizations and authorities. The huge jump in unemployment, the presence of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, the legal framework, but also the problems caused by the cuts of police wages cause concern that the situation could get out of control.
Data analysis is more than telling. Crime is at its peak. While there were around 1,000 burglaries per year in Greece in 1991, their number will exceed 7,000 at the end of 2012. In 2010, the total number of bank robberies was 300. Thefts in supermarkets reached 360 and burglaries of homes - 432.
The security measures that banks and large trading companies have taken are expected to lower the number of burglaries to 60 and those in supermarkets are not expected to exceed 260. For the 50 large and heavily armed criminal gangs that stole a total of about 8 million from "big fish" they are now trying to get them by raiding the homes of hundreds of ordinary people. In 2012, robberies of homes are expected to exceed 1500 and many of them will possibly grow into violent clashes. The slightest response by the victims can turn into a tragedy. In recent months, there have been at least 20 cases of killings and serious injuries during robberies of homes and commercial sites. The victims were mostly elderly people and in most cases, the perpetrators were not revealed.
Police fear after the robbery in Paros that the next step will be the kidnapping of managers of bank branches by the criminals in order to get past the security measures. They also expect an increase in the abduction of children and other easily accessible victims. At the same time, the number of robberies of homes increases by about 8-10 per cent annually and is expected to reach 30,000 by the end of 2012.
One of the very serious problems facing the Greek police is the "recycling" of criminals. As indicated by a senior police representative, 620 people have been captured for various crimes in recent months. 200 have already been released and 60 of them have been recaptured for committing crimes again.
The police in Athens capture around 150-200 people every day for crimes or within the actions connected with illegal immigrants. "The criminals we arrest for carrying out major thefts and robberies remain in jail for several months and a maximum of two years," they stressed.
Particularly worrying are the recent and frequent attacks for racist reasons. "A group of extreme right or reservists have become self-proclaimed avengers. They attack and kill unsuspecting strangers on the street just because of the colour of their skin. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to reveal them at present.
The number of victims of such attacks with knives and iron rods reached 500 last month. In addition to Athens and the suburbs such raids were recorded in Chalkis, Rethymno, Nikea, Iraklio, Vonitsa and other areas. The attacks and desecration of Muslim places of worship in Athens have become more frequent too. The number of xenophobic groups continues to grow and it is particularly difficult for the police to collect accurate data on their members.
The economic crisis is the cause for the rise in frauds. In 2010, they numbered 1991 and they are expected to reach at least 3,600 at the end of 2012. In most cases, this involves cheques without coverage, fictitious transactions, frauds to the detriment of investors and the like.