Vassilis Palaiokostas

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Vassilis Palaiokostas (Greek: Βασίλης Παλαιοκώστας); born 1966 at Moschofyto, Trikala regional unit is a Greek fugitive who escaped by helicopter twice from the Greek high-security Korydallos prison while serving a 25-year sentence for kidnapping and robbery. He is believed to have been the mastermind of the kidnapping of Giorgos Mylonas, a Greek industrialist, as the ransom paid was traced back to him. In 2000 he was convicted for the 1995 kidnapping of Alexander Haitoglou, the CEO of Haitoglou Bros, a food company in Northern Greece and sentenced to 25 years in prison.[1] His brother, Nikos Palaiokostas, is in prison for 16 bank robberies.[2]

The government of Greece faced intense criticism after his second escape from the same facility, and the government responded by firing three justice ministry officials and arresting three prison guards.[3]

What makes him famous in his hometown is the fact that it is said that he has given most of the stolen money to poor families, making him a local "Robin of the Poor", reminiscent of the famous tale of Robin Hood.[4] His actions have also garnered him the title "uncatchable". [5]

2006 escape[edit]

Two accomplices hired a trip on a sight-seeing helicopter from Agios Kosmas, a coastal suburb of Athens. They hijacked the helicopter using a pistol and hand grenade, and forced the pilot to fly to the prison.[6] When the helicopter arrived, guards believed the helicopter was a visit from prison inspectors.[7][8] The helicopter flew the prisoners to a cemetery nearby, where they transferred to motorcycles and fled from there.

Palaiokostas was re-captured two years later, on August 2, 2008,[2] in Thessaloniki.

2009 escape[edit]

On the afternoon of Sunday 22 February, Palaiokostas again escaped from Athens' Korydallos Prison by helicopter. He and his accomplice Alket Rizai, 34, climbed a rope ladder thrown to them by a female passenger in the helicopter as it flew over the prison courtyard.

Guards on the ground opened fire and the woman fired back with an automatic rifle. No injuries were reported due to the short gun fight, although one prison guard injured himself while trying to pull out his gun.[9]

Police said an elderly couple found the helicopter abandoned in the Athenian suburb of Kapandriti near a highway north of Athens, with its fuel tank leaking from a bullet hole.

The pilot was bound and gagged, with a hood over his head. He told police the helicopter was chartered by a couple who said they wanted to go from the town of Itea in central Greece to Athens. The couple had chartered the helicopter a number of times in the previous weeks, with the woman posing as a business woman. According to the pilot, who claimed to have been forced into taking part in the escape, Palaiokostas and Rizai were delivered to a getaway car.[10]

Alket Rizai was re-arrested in November 2009.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Κουτσάμπαρης, Φώτης (11 June 2008). Οκτώ απαγωγές που συγκλόνισαν το πανελλήνιο. Μακεδονία (in Greek). 
  2. ^ a b "Greek helicopter fugitive caught". BBC. 2008-08-21. 
  3. ^ "Greek government criticised over prison break". Reuters. 2009-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Police capture key Greek fugitive". BBC. 2006-09-14. 
  5. ^ "The Uncatchable". BBC. 2014-09-24. 
  6. ^ "Industrialist's abductors nabbed". Athens News Agency. 2008-08-21. 
  7. ^ "Prison break repeat shocks Greece". BBC. 2009-02-22. 
  8. ^ "Paleokostas repeats helicopter escape". Athens News Agency. 2009-02-22. 
  9. ^ "Απόδραση-καρμπόν Παλαιοκώστα και Ριζάι από τον Κορυδαλλό με ελικόπτερο". in.gr. 
  10. ^ "Vassilis Paleokostas". Badass of the Week. 2009-02-21. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  11. ^ "Alket Rizai arrested | GRReporter.info- News from Greece - Breaking News, Business, Sport, Multimedia and Video". GRReporter.info. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 

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