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Greek TV Host Detained After Journalist's Death Threat Claims

Ευρωκίνηση

(Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS – Greek police took into custody a fringe TV host who a prominent investigative journalist claimed wanted him killed and had orchestrated an attack on police and his own home to justify getting police protection.

Menios Fourthiotis was to be questioned over the accusations made by Kostas Vaxevanis that came three weeks after the shooting death of well-known crime journalist Giorgos Karaivaz, gunned down outside his home.

Police raided Fourthiotis' home in a northern Athens suburb, said Kathimerini as Vaxevanis said he was making public the alleged death threat to protect himself in the wake of Karaivaz's murder.

Fourthiotis, who had a dozen-strong police bodyguard pulled after outrage it was given because he complained about a fire outside the TV station where he works, will be probed after the two incidents involving firearms near his home.

He is also being investigated in connection with the complaint from Vaxevanis who said that he had received a tipoff from a source suggesting that Fourthiotis had put out a contract against him, the report added.

Investigators reportedly found forensic evidence connecting Fourthiotis and the shooting of an assault rifle in the air outside his home and the attack on a police motorcycle unit also nearby the same night.

The report said police found a bullet casing and DNA allegedly linking the two incidents and that one of two suspects arrested in the attack in police has a criminal record and was tied to protection rackets.

Vaxevanis also suspects Fourthiotis of being behind an attempted break-in at the offices of the newspaper he publishes, Documento which came as Reporters Without Borders issued a report critical of media freedom in Greece under the New Democracy government.

The International Press Institute (IPI) said it was worried over the reports that Vaxevanis' life could be a risk in the wake of the Varaivaz killing in which police have given few details about their investigation after saying it was likely a mob hit.

Vaxevanis has been given police protection and Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said the Athens Prosecutor’s Office had launched a preliminary investigation into the journalist's claim.

In an article published in Documento, Vaxevanis said two people he didn't identify warned him that was a “price on his head,” indicating it was a contract allegedly made by Fourthiotis, with no reports the TV presenter has responded.

IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said, “If a death contract is discovered, all those involved in ordering, communicating or planning this potential murder plot must be identified and prosecuted.”

He added that the killing of Karaivaz “was a tragic reminder of the grave dangers that journalists face while carrying out their work and an urgent illustration of why those responsible for such attacks must face justice. 

“The situation in Greece is becoming more and more worrying. IPI will continue to closely monitor this situation in the coming weeks and hopes that any serious risk to Vaxevanis’ life can be quickly established and acted upon,” he also added.