Greek journalist hit by more than 15 shots, police say slaying is linked to terror group

Monday, July 19, 2010

Greek journalist gunned down, police cite terror

ATHENS, Greece — A Greek journalist was gunned down in a pre-dawn attack outside his home Monday by suspected members of a Greek terrorist group that had vowed to target the media, police said.

At least two attackers fired 16 shots at 37-year-old Sokratis Giolias, killing him instantly after luring him from his home Athens’ eastern neighborhood of Ilioupoli, reportedly by telling him his car was being stolen.

Giolias headed the private Athens radio station Thema FM and wrote on a popular online news blog, Troktiko, which often deals with political, business and social scandals.

The blog said two or three gunmen were believed to have shot Giolias, who was married with a young child. Police said they believe more than one gunman was involved. A car reported stolen was found burned out near the scene of the shooting, said police, who are investigating whether it was linked to the attack.

Sixteen bullet casings recovered from the scene matched two 9-millimeter weapons used by the Greek terrorist group Sect of Revolutionaries, police said in a statement.

The group emerged after Greece was hit by widespread rioting in December 2008, sparked by the police’s fatal shooting of a teenage boy. It has previously claimed responsibility for killing an anti-terrorist police officer in June 2009 and for attacking a private television station with gunshots and an explosive device in February that year.

When it assumed responsibility for the TV station attack, the group had accused the media of manufacturing news and attempting to ensure that the public remains obedient to the state.

“Journalists, this time we came to your door, but next time you will find us in your homes,” it had said.

Greek authorities have battled increasingly deadly attacks by militant groups since the 2008 riots. Last month, a letter bomb exploded inside the Civil Protection Ministry — one of Greece’s most heavily guarded buildings — killing a close aide of the minister.

According to ballistics test results released by the police, both weapons used to kill Giolias had previously been used to shoot dead anti-terrorist policeman Nektarios Savvas, who had been guarding the home of a witness in a terrorism trial. One of the two guns had also been used in two separate attacks in February 2009 claimed by Sect of Revolutionaries: a shooting against a police station and the attack against the Alter television station, neither of which caused any injuries.

Journalists, the government and politicians condemned Monday’s slaying.

“Democracy and freedom of speech cannot be gagged, terrorize or intimidated,” government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said. “The government unreservedly condemns this cowardly and cold-blooded murder.”


Associated Press writer Derek Gatopoulos in Athens contributed.

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