ATHENS – Two months after beginning Operation Clean Hands to try to rein in growing mob violence, Greek police aren’t getting very far, with another unsolved killing on their hands instead.
They are looking for clues and the killers of 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, said Kathimerini.
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.
Investigative reporter Giorgos Karaivaz was gunned down outside his Athens home in April of 2021 and no clues have emerged from that, speculation that killers were brought in from another country and fled immediately.
In March, the Greek police (ELAS) said they hoped an extensive report on the structure and operation of Greece’s powerful criminal groups will trigger a wave of investigations and trials reminiscent of Italy’s anti-Mafia drive codenamed “mani pulite” (“clean hands.”)
A confidential 100-page report seen by Kathimerini was submitted to Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilis Pliotas by Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis to review but no word on what’s come of it since.
The report was prompted by the deadly turf wars between rival protection rackets, and identified at least 20 protection rackets, three in Attica, but also in Patra, Agrinio, Zakynthos, Kalamata and Mykonos.
Pliotas was expected to order a preliminary inquiry into the case, clearing the way for the lifting of confidentiality on suspects’ telephone conversations and banking transactions but no report if he did.