Assassination of Sokratis Giolias
|Assassination of Sokratis Giolias|
|Date||19 July 2010 (CET)|
|Perpetrators||Sect of Revolutionaries (Suspected)|
The assassination of Sokratis Giolias took place 19 July 2010 when Giolias, a Greek investigative journalist and broadcaster, was shot approximately 15 times at close range outside his home in Ilioupoli, Athens. The identities of the gunmen are unknown, but the weapons used were linked to previous attacks by the Sect of Revolutionaries, one of the deadliest ultra leftist terrorist groups currently active in Greece. Giolias was the first reporter to be murdered in Greece in over 25 years.
Life and career
Sokratis Giolias (Greek: Σωκράτης Γκιόλιας; 13 February 1973 – 19 July 2010) was a Greek investigative journalist, blogger and broadcaster. At the time of his death he was head of news at a private Athens radio station, Thema FM. He was the co-founder of the news blog 'Troktiko' according to various sources including a confirmation made by the website following his death, though he had denied this association in his lifetime. The blog became one of the most popular sources of news in Greece. In the wake of the shooting, Troktiko went offline, citing security reasons. (See Below)
According to his colleagues, he had planned to publish the results of an investigation into corruption in the coming days. He was recognizable to the Greek public due to his close association with Makis Triantafyllopoulos, one of Greece's best known investigative journalists. Prior to becoming an investigative journalist, he worked as a sports journalist.
Threats to journalists
While there had been several previous reports of threats against prominent Greek journalists from the various parties vying for power in recent years, including a shooting at the headquarters of Alter TV linked to the Sect of Revolutionaries which caused no injuries, there had never been any direct action taken in furtherance of these threats. After the attack, the group released a statement in which they warned, "Journalists, this time we came to your door, but next time you will find us in your homes."
At approximately 5:30 (UTC) on 19 July 2010, three men dressed as security personnel and wearing bullet-proof vests arrived at Mr Giolias's residence in one of the many suburbs of Athens. Using the intercom, the men then summoned Giolias out into the street from his home under the pretense that his car was being stolen. Once Giolias stepped outside, the men reportedly opened fire with at least two 9 mm semi-automatic rifles. The group fired a total of 16 shots and according to reports hit him "at least fifteen times" before driving away. He died instantly.
In the wake of the shooting, police, after ballistic testing, identified the bullets as being fired by the same guns used by a violent terrorist group called the Sect of Revolutionaries. According to the test results released by the police, both weapons used to kill Giolias had previously been used in the shooting of anti-terrorist policeman Nektarios Savvas, who had been guarding the home of a witness in a terrorism trial in early February 2009.
Police later stated that they were searching for a well-trained, professional team of hit-men composed of approximately three men posing as security agents. The getaway car used by the gang was later discovered abandoned and burned in a different section of the neighborhood where the shooting took place.
In response to the shooting, Greek Parliamentary speaker Philippos Petsalnikos gave an interview in which he expressed his "outrage and grief at this heinous and murderous act". This was followed shortly by government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis who held a press conference where he stated that, "Democracy and freedom of speech cannot be gagged, terrorized or intimidated. The Government unreservedly condemns this cowardly and cold-blooded murder."
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) released a statement of their own shortly after the shooting in which it "ask[ed] the Greek authorities to ensure that this murder will be investigated quickly and thoroughly and that the public be informed of its progress continuously." The group also expressed their hope "that those responsible for this horrific murder will be brought swiftly to justice." 
On 24 July 2010, the blog Troktiko announced that it was to suspend its activities online indefinitely in response to the assassination, the note read
- Goodnight Greece, the birthplace of democracy has ended up killing the freedom of expression.
- Sokratis, we wish you well and hope you're watching over us.
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