Case against gold trad­ing racket col­laps­ing

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A crim­i­nal case against a racket trad­ing in large quan­ti­ties of gold ap­peared set to col­lapse yes­ter­day af­ter an in­ves­ti­gat­ing mag­is­trate tasked with grilling the sus­pects de­ter­mined that there are no grounds for smug­gling charges.

Eight peo­ple, in­clud­ing a Greek pawn shop owner be­lieved to have run the racket, were re­manded in cus­tody over the week­end af­ter ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties lodged smug­gling charges against them. How­ever, their re­lease was be­lieved to be just a mat­ter of time yes­ter­day af­ter one of the sus­pects’ lawyers, Michalis Dim­i­trakopou­los, ap­pealed to the mag­is­trate for the case to be dropped, claim­ing that the smug­gling charges do not stand.

The mag­is­trate, and pros­e­cu­tors, sub­se­quently checked in with the Fi­nance Min­istry on the pro­vi­sions of Law No. 2960 on smug­gling and de­ter­mined that the ex­port of gold to Turkey does not carry du­ties or tar­iffs.

In re­sponse to a query lodged by the in­ves­ti­gat­ing mag­is­trate, a Jus­tice Min­istry body stated the same thing, not­ing that the only pos­si­ble of­fenses in such a case would be lesser vi­o­la­tions of cus­toms laws.

In the cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, nei­ther po­lice nor ju­di­cial au­thor­i­ties ap­plied for a cer­tifi­cate from cus­toms au­thor­i­ties to in­di­cate that any vi­o­la­tions had been car­ried out.

The over­sight prompted the crit­i­cism of de­fense lawyers, with some ac­cus­ing the ju­di­ciary and the po­lice of a “fi­asco” and oth­ers claim­ing that the case was a “setup.”

Mean­while, as Alexis Kougias, lawyer of the prime sus­pect Richar­dos My­lonas, called for his client’s im­me­di­ate re­lease from pre­trial cus­tody, the mag­is­trate wrote to a pros­e­cu­tor say­ing that “there are no longer reasons for their tem­po­rary de­ten­tion.”

Ac­cord­ing to a ju­di­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the racket melted and re­cast gold gath­ered from a net­work of pawn shops in Greece be­fore load­ing it onto tour buses and trans­port­ing it to Turkey. Au­thor­i­ties are now ex­pected to re­view the case file be­fore seek­ing to pros­e­cute on other charges.

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