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Wife of Greek Ex-Minister Found Dead at Sea Suspects Killing

ATHENS — The wife of Sifis Valyrakis, a former minister for the now-defunct PASOK Socialists said she believes her husband, found dead at sea after he went out in his boat, may have been killed by another boat, suspecting manslaughter.

Valyrakis was anti-junta activist during Greece’s 1967-74 military dictatorship and twice escaped prison, once swimming to Albania and was found in the sea with severe head and neck wounds, believed from a propeller.

He had sailed out, reports said, no indication whether his vessel had an engine and with an eyewitness said to have another boat circling his menacingly before he was found in the water.

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.

Valyrakis, 77, had gone out in his inflatable craft at the afternoon of Jan. 24 off the coast of the island of Evia in central Greece, where his family has a vacation home.  His boat was found in the afternoon without him, and his body later. 

His wife 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.

Valyrakis was Minister of Public Order, in charge of the security and intelligence services, from March 1995 to January 1996. Earlier, in the 1980s and 1990s, he was deputy Public Order Minister (1988-89 and 1994-95), Sports Minister (1985-88) and Deputy Transport and Comunications Minister (1981-84) in the Socialist governments of Andreas Papandreou.

He was devoted to Papandreou but was replaced as minister when he stepped down for health reasons in 1996, remaining a Member of Parliament from his Chania district on Crete.

He was the son of a former Army officer and later lawmaker with the Center Union party, in the 1960s. Born in Chania in 1943, he studied electronics and industrial automation in Germany and Sweden.

During the dictatorship, he joined Papandreou's Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PASOK) and was trained at a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) camp in Lebanon. He was responsible for several bombing attacks against the dictatorship, although these caused no casualties.

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