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Politics

Greek Police Seek Witnesses in Former Minister’s Boat Death

ATHENS – After his wife said she suspected foul play, Greek police are looking for witnesses in the death of former minister Sifis Valyrakis, whose body was found in the sea with severe head and neck wounds.

He had gone out in an inflatable boat off the island of Evia and a medical examiner’s report said the injuries could have been caused by a propeller but it wasn’t said if it could have been that on his dinghy.

In a letter to Shipping Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis, Mina Papatheodorou-Valiraki said there were indications another boat may have been there, said Kathimerini, although there haven't been any verifications.

She said that people in the small community of Eretria may submit evidence of the involvement of a fishing boat, “which means that the case for manslaughter is strong, if not certain.”

Conditions at sea were “good,” a Coast Guard spokeswoman told the Associated Press, adding that no cause of death can be given yet.

Coast guard officers questioned locals around the seaside town of Eretria, seeking corroboration for the testimony of a witness questioned in connection with the death, said Kathimerini.

The unnamed witness reportedly saw the 77-year-old in a heated argument with the captain of a 6- or 7-meter fishing boat several hours before the retired lawmaker’s body was discovered, the paper said.

The fisherman apparently was angry that Valyrakis was violating a COVID-19 lockdown ban to go spearfishing which set off the argument, prompting the fisherman to circle Valyrakis’ dinghy, stirring up the waves, before taking off.

It wasn’t clear whether he may have fallen off and near the propeller, the report said, with a forensic investigator looking into the cause an the accident to try to determine what happened.

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