ATHENS – As police are looking at surveillance video and talking to witnesses, a New Democracy government official said it’s likely that organized crime elements were behind the shooting death of crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz.
The TV journalist was shot 10 times as he stepped out of his car outside his home in the Athens seaside neighborhood of Alimos after returning from work in mid-afternoon, the murder seen by municipal workers pruning trees.
He was hit 10 times, including in the head, an autopsy shown Deputy Minister Lefteris Economou who suggested the link to the mob, he told state broadcaster ERT, as rival gangs have been engaged in a long-running turf war.
That has seen rival gangsters gunned down but the killing of a well-known journalist riveted the attention of the public and the government which promised to find who was behind it.
Gangs previously have employed foreign hit men who then disappear back to their countries which could make finding the gun man, in the rear seat of a motorcycle driven by an accomplice, hard to find.
Economou cautioned, however that it’s too early to make any assumptions as to a motive and with no one claiming responsibility for the killing, the autopsy showing Karaivaz had been followed by “professional assassins,” the report said.
Preliminary reports said the perpetrators used a weapon with a silencer as they fired multiple rounds and 17 bullet casings were collected at the scene, said media reports noted by Al Jazeera.
“I tried to park my car where he lay. I thought someone had fainted. He was lying face down … blood was flowing onto the sidewalk,” a woman who lives in the neighborhood told reporters.
“I can’t even process this information, I’ve known this man for 32 years,” fellow Star TV journalist Vaios Syrros said during the station’s afternoon news show.
A statement on Karavaiz’s blog said: “The founder and owner of bloko.gr is no longer with us. “Somebody chose to silence him, to stop him with bullets from writing his stories,” it said.
Government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said the murder “shocked us all”, adding that authorities are “already investigating the case,” while the major opposition SYRIZA dema ded the killers be found without saying how.
The ESIEA journalists’ union expressed“deep sorrow” in a statement and stressed it will “defend the freedom of the press and the unimpeded work of journalists against any pressure and threat”, including “against mafia practices and criminal plans.’
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Citizens Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis for a briefing and demanded a “swift resolution” the report said although neither the wounding of tabloid Stefanos Chios, who survived after being shot in the neck and chest by a hooded man outside his home in July 2020 nor the 2010 murder of radio manager, blogger and investigative journalist Socratis Giolias, also gunned down outside his home have been solved.
European Commission President Ursula von der leyen tweeted that, “Murdering a journalist is a despicable, cowardly act,” as the European Union is mulling a plan to offer further protections to journalists without specifying how.
Karaivaz had worked for some of Greece’s leading newspapers and TV channels in a 32-year career, the report noted.
“(He) was one of the most experienced crime reporters in the field… and was held in high regard by colleagues,” ESIEA added in a statement.
The federation of Greek police officers said Karaivaz was interested in improving working conditions for law enforcement and was “strongly critical of anybody” standing in their union’s way.
Some journalists request police protection after receiving threats, but Karaivaz was unguarded as he, according to local reports, did not ask for protection and the murder came as the government removed a squad of police protecting a provocative TV presenter who demanded guards.