Po­lice seek clues in killing of top crim­i­nal lawyer

Zafeiropou­los’s cases un­der mi­cro­scope

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing the killing of prom­i­nent lawyer Michalis Zafeiropou­los in his Athens of­fice on Thurs­day night are seek­ing to de­ter­mine whether the crime had been pre­med­i­tated, Kathimerini un­der­stands.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have de­ter­mined that two men en­tered the build­ing on As­cle­piou Street at around 7 p.m. had had an ap­point­ment with Zafeiropou­los. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­ter’s as­so­ciate, the two men were aged be­tween 30 and 40 and spoke good Greek but with a for­eign ac­cent that sug­gested they might be Al­ba­nian. Ini­tially the four men had a con­ver­sa­tion in the lobby be­fore the pair were led to Zafeiropou­los’s of­fice. Once they were alone with him, one of them shot him in the chest at close range, killing him in­stantly.

As Zafeiropou­los’s of­fice has no sur­veil­lance cam­eras, po­lice are fo­cus­ing on footage from the cam­eras of shops in the area in their bid to iden­tify the killers.

The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion was fo­cus­ing on re­cent cases un­der­taken by the 52-year-old crim­i­nal lawyer as in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve one of th­ese may have pro­voked the per­pe­tra­tors.

Among the cases han­dled by Zafeiropou­los are the de­fense of a sus­pect in the En­erga-Hel­las Power em­bez­zle­ment af­fair (which has been linked to an at­tempted con­tract killing), the de­fense of the pub­lisher of Para­poli­tika in a case against De­fense Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos, the de­fense of arms dealer Thomas Li­ak­ounakos as well as theft and drug cases.

How­ever, in­ves­ti­ga­tors are also con­sid­er­ing pos­si­ble links with sus­pected mem­bers of a cannabis racket that Zafeiropou­los had been set to de­fend on Mon­day. The racket’s ac­tiv­i­ties were un­cov­ered in Septem­ber last year and linked to a large ring of Al­ba­nian cannabis smug­glers which was bro­ken two months later.

Le­gal pro­fes­sion­als yes­ter­day ex­pressed their re­spect for Zafeiropou­los, a well-known crim­i­nal lawyer and the son of for­mer New Democ­racy MP Epaminon­das Zafeiropou­los.

The pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil of State, the coun­try’s high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive court, Nikos Sakel­lar­iou, called for a minute’s si­lence at the be­gin­ning of the court’s ple­nary ses­sion yes­ter­day morn­ing, ex­press­ing “deep sor­row” at the lawyer’s death. The Athens Bar As­so­ci­a­tion also held a minute’s si­lence, while sev­eral cases that had been planned for yes­ter­day were post­poned af­ter the as­so­ci­a­tion called a week-long strike, start­ing on Thurs­day night.

As the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der in­ten­si­fied yes­ter­day, the leader of main op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis ex­pressed his con­cern at “a pre­vail­ing cli­mate of to­tal law­less­ness, even in cen­tral Athens.” In a dig at the gov­ern­ment, Mit­so­takis re­ferred to the “un­jus­ti­fi­able tol­er­ance that some dis­play to­ward vi­o­lence and law­less­ness.” “Cit­i­zens feel less and less safe,” he said, adding that such a sit­u­a­tion “should not be tol­er­ated in a state that abides by the rule of law.”

Cam­eras are seen yes­ter­day out­side the cen­tral Athens of­fice of Michalis Zafeiropou­los, the prom­i­nent crim­i­nal lawyer who was shot dead on Thurs­day evening. Po­lice have said the per­pe­tra­tors might have in­tended to only threaten him.

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