ATHENS – The murder of two Albanians shot in a popular central square in the neighborhood of Nea Smyrni was likely done to settle differences between gangs, a lone shooter walking away from the scene.
No names were given but Kathimerini said it was told by police sources it didn’t identify that it seems the work of a rival mob, the two men 44 and 42 killed on the spot and a woman sitting nearby wounded in the buttocks.
A surveillance video posted on YouTube captured the moment a gunman wearing a face mask and a black hoodie opened fire shortly after 9:30 PM on Dec. 19 and then fleeing the scene. One of the victims died there and the other in a hospital.
Police also said they think the shooter acted alone as there was no apparent sign of an accomplice. One of the victims had reportedly been involved in drug cases and robberies in the past, the Greek capital having an Albanian underworld too.
Albanian media also reported his involvement in drug cases and other offenses and that he had been convicted by an Albanian court for smuggling illegal immigrants and that the other victim had been threatened and changed where he lived.
The incident was alarming enough, given where it took place during the Christmas shopping season, to register on the site Crisis 24 which reports shootings, also adding that police said it was tied to organized crime activity.
The cafeteria, on a pedestrian walk, was full of people during the holiday season, the latest in a string of shootings and murders with the same modus operandi that hasn’t seen arrests in apparent ongoing mob turf wars.
Greek police earlier this year began Operation Clean Hands in a bid to rein in mob violence and brazen attacks in public but it hasn’t worked as soon after the announcement a notorious gangster, Yiannis Skaftouros, 55, gunned down with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a pistol in what police believe was a contract execution on the day after Easter.
Skaftouros, who had been sentenced to life in prison but was released three years ago under a leniency law passed by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, was a prominent member of what police and the media call the “Greek Mafia.”
According to information they got from questioning witnesses, investigators believe one of the shooters was either Georgian, or an ethnic Greek from the same country, and the other two Albanians, the paper said.
Skaftouros’ murder, in his holiday home northwest of Athens, is one of at least 20 committed since 2017 as part of a turf war among gangs involved in extortion and other criminal activities, the report added.
There are also said to be elements of the Sicilian Mafia, Italian Camorra and Romanian and Serbian gangsters operating in the country but Greek crime bosses have most the power and reportedly operate large nightclubs, giving them the name Godfathers of the Night.
They are especially involved in racketeering, the illegal smuggling of oil, money laundering, weapon and drug trafficking as well as murder and said to be protected through bribing officials and other state agents.