Greece Presses Criminal Charges for Mafia Murders

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A prosecutor in Greece on Friday brought charges against two suspects for killing members of the Greek mafia; among a total of seven suspects involved, one is already in detention in Montenegro.

A Greek prosecutor on Friday brought criminal charges against two suspects for nine felonies and seven misdemeanors, for executing contracts to kill Greek mafia members. Seven people are allegedly involved in the case; one of whom has been detained in Montenegro.

Greek police on Thursday said they had identified a total of seven suspects for the murders of Yiannis Skaftouros in 2022 and Vassilis Roubetis in 2023 – both leading members of the Greek mafia:

Among the seven are the two ethnic Greeks from countries of the former Soviet Union who were arrested on January 17 and charged by the prosecution Friday. Another suspect has been detained in Larissa.

Additionally, an arrest warrant has been issued for two others, from Georgia and Uzbekistan, who have fled abroad; another person is wanted in Greece, and one other is in prison in Montenegro.

Greek police told BIRN that the person held in prison in Montenegro is Pajo Xhonatan, 25, of Albanian origin. Xhonatan was arrested on October 14, 2023, by Montenegrin police at the Sukobin border crossing while trying to leave Montenegro and charged with criminal association in connection with a criminal offence, illegal possession of weapons and explosive materials and criminal forgery of a document.

Xhonatan was using a fake Greek passport in the name of Pappas Vasile. Montenegrin authorities suspect him and two Armenian citizens, Armen Martirosyan and Mnatsakanyan Artyom, of preparing a murder in the town of Budva.

The two Greeks from the former Soviet Union that Greece has charged are accused variously of: criminal organisation, murder with intent, attempted murder, complicity in murder, robbery and attempted murder, aggravated weapons possession, aggravated theft from organised persons, arson, and attempted manufacture and possession of explosives, explosion, illegal carrying of a weapon, forgery, illegal possession of a weapon, distinguished wearing, smuggling, illegal possession and use of a weapon.

A Greek police representative told BIRN on Friday that it looked as if two mafia groups active in cigarette smuggling had been settling scores. An international ring operating throughout Europe, based in Ukraine, wanted to take control of cigarette smuggling in Greece, police told BIRN. The profits from the smuggling are estimated to be many millions.

Retired Lieutenant General and Honorary Deputy Chief of the Greek Police Ioannis Rachovitsas toid the Greek public broadcaster ERT that the Greek mafia at first had control of the “night” [illicit activities in nightclubs], but then, because of the financial crisis and the change of the general culture, had turned to fuel and cigarette smuggling, where profits are larger.

In addition to the two arrests of the Greek expatriates, the Greek police made a third arrest in January 18. The third person arrested is accused of smuggling and illegal possession of weapons and is allegedly not connected to the two murders. He maintains that he does not know the other two.

All three are expected to appear before an investigator on Monday.

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