EnetEnglish.gr, 11:49 Friday 28 February 2014
Six charged with plotting to murder journalist Kostas Vaxevanis
Journalist says gang tried to ambush him at his home just days before he published controversial Lagarde list
Eight-month investigation, mostly carried out by HotDoc magazine and subsequently published, led police to the six suspects, who are charged with forming, directing and membership of a criminal gang; conspiracy to murder; drugs offences; as well as blackmail, forgery and fraud
Six men, one of whom is alleged to be a member of the country's secret service, were charged on Thursday by a prosecutor with forming a gang that plotted to assassinate the prominent journalist Kostas Vaxevanis.
On 9 September 2012, just days before the journalist published the Lagarde list of over 2,000 Greeks with accounts in a Swiss bank, five people attempted to ambush Vaxevanis at his home, which they had broken into. Sensing their presence, the journalist called the police, who failed to apprehend the men.
A few days after the incident, a woman appeared at the offices of Vaxevanis' news magazine Hot Doc, claiming that she was employed by a group of EYP operatives who had rented an office at an address near HotDoc and whose aim, she explained, was to destroy Vaxevanis' reputation and then to kill him.
The woman was later taken into a witness protection programme and an eight-month investigation, mostly carried out by HotDoc and subsequently published, led police to the six suspects, who are charged with forming, directing and membership of a criminal gang; conspiracy to murder; drugs offences; as well as blackmail, forgery and fraud.
An article on Vaxevanis' Kouti tis Pandoras website named the six defendants as Kostas Angelakis (who it says is an EYP agent and its former espionage director) and his colleague Sofoklis Koukoulitsios, Yiorgos Polyzos, Yiorgos Dimitriadis, Alkiviadis Kastanis and Antonis Kasvikis.
On the same day in May 2012 that HotDoc published a lengthy report alleging that a number of banks and bankers were involved in a network of fraud and embezzlement that included offshore companies, a blog called Fimotro published what claimed to be a receipt bearing Vaxevanis' signature for a €50,000 payment from EYP to Vaxevanis.
An analysis from a handwriting expert later said the signature was a forgery.
"The same group also used anonymous blogs to slander journalists Stephen Grey (Reuters) and Thomas Landon Jr. (New York Times), both of whom had published stories regarding scandals and corruption inside the Greek banking system," Kouti tis Pandoras said.
Vaxevanis also alleges that the same gang had tried to destroy the credibility of a former bank official, who was dismissed from her job after handing over allegations of wrongdoing at a particular bank.
In October 2012, Vaxevanis in Hot Doc published a list of 2,059 Greek residents with accounts at the Geneva branch of HSBC. In November 2013, an Athens court acquitted him at his retrial on charges of breaking privacy laws by publishing what became known as the Lagarde list.