ATHENS – After Greek police said they would be intensifying their hunt for gangsters engaged in increasingly violent wars for turf and power, investigators said the shooting death of a retired boxer was likely part of the battles.
The victim, identified as Tasos Berdesis, 39, was shot at least 10 times while sitting in the front passenger seat of a car in a drive-by shooting in the southern suburb of Vari.
He was a known former athlete who worked as a doorman at popular nightclubs and security jobs for businesses, said Kathimerini, and had a criminal record and served time in jail.
In 2015 he was charged by police over his alleged participation in an extortion racket but was later acquitted. There was no report on a motive as organized crime violence is spinning out of control in the Greek capital.
In mid-May, another former boxer was killed in the area of Metamorfosi in what police called a gangland murder, while on the night of May 30 a 32-year-old Albanian national was shot dead in a coffee shop in Sepolia, western Athens.
On June 1, police were at the scene of another shooting, in Alimos, a southern Athens suburb, the paper said, the violence escalating in the face of police saying they were going to hunt down perpetrators.
Code named Mani Pulite – an Italian anti-corruption 1990s operation meaning “Clean Hands” – Greek anti-mob teams are going to target organized crime in the country after a spate of violent incidents and murders.
That comes after a report on the structure and operation of Greece’s powerful criminal groups, a 100-page document prepared by security services and given to Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilis Pliotas by Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, said Kathimerini.
What sparked it now seems to be the still unsolved gunning down of investigative journalist Giorgos Karaivaz outside his Athens home, shot dead by a man on the back of a two-person motorcycle, who then got off and delivered two final bullets to the head to finish him off.
The report, the paper said, identifies at least 20 protection rackets, three in Attica, but also in Patra, Agrinio, Zakynthos, Kalamata and the popular tourist island of Mykonos, notorious for tax evasion and flouting the law.
Pliotas is expected to order a preliminary inquiry into the case so that investigators can have access to suspects’ telephone conversations and banking transactions, indicating that talks were being tapped in the probe.