Greek crime journalist shot dead in Athens in ‘execution-style’ murder

Greek crime journalist shot dead in Athens in ‘execution-style’ murder

A prominent Greek crime journalist has been shot dead in what was described as an “execution-style” murder near his home in Athens.

Giorgos Karaivaz, who sought to illuminate Greece’s seamier underside with his coverage of law and order stories on the private Star TV channel, died of gunshot wounds outside his home in the south of the city.

According to media reports, two men on a motorbike drew up beside him and the passenger opened fire at the journalist as he drove back from work.

Twelve bullet casings were found at the scene and police said Karaivaz was hit at least six times with shots from a 9mm pistol. The weapon was probably muffled with a silencer.

Aristotelia Peloni, a spokesperson for the centre-right government, said the murder had “shocked us all”.

“Authorities are already investigating in order to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” she said.

Speaking at the scene of the killing, Maria Antoniadou, the head of the journalists union ESIEA, said: “Whoever thinks that, in this way, they can silence journalists – there are another 6,099 who will investigate and demand to know what has happened.”

Karaivaz’s shocked colleagues broke the news of his death during a daily bulletin. “It’s our own Giorgos Karaivaz … who audiences see every day, who all these years has worked on many different difficult subjects that together we have covered in our crime reportage,” said the TV anchor Katia Makri. “It’s very difficult to even believe that something like this has happened. It’s a piece of news that has really shocked us.”

The reporter, a familiar face on Star TV for several years, was shot from a distance of approximately 5 metres as he emerged from his car outside his home. Police believe the killers were aware of his route and had followed him as he returned from working on a daytime TV show.

Star TV said although the investigation was ongoing it was believed the reporter may have been the victim of domestic terrorism. A motorbike bearing a resemblance to the vehicle described by eyewitnesses was later found abandoned on a highway.

Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, urged Greek authorities to find the perpetrators tweeting: “The killing of Giorgos Karaivaz in #Greece today is a tragic reminder that journalism is a dangerous profession in Europe. I call on the authorities to urgently and fully investigate this crime and ensure that those responsible are held accountable #safetyofjournalists”.

While it is not unusual for Greek media offices to be the targets of firebomb and vandalism attacks, killings of journalists are relatively rare in Greece. In July, the tabloid owner Stefanos Chios survived after being shot in the neck and chest by a hooded man outside his home. The case is still under investigation.

Eleven years ago, as Greece descended into economic and political crisis, the investigative reporter Socratis Giolias was gunned down on his doorstep by masked assailants who shot him sixteen times in front of his pregnant wife.

The 37-year-old radio chief was the first journalist killed in the country since the newspaper publisher, Nikos Momferatos, was murdered by the now defunct November 17 group in 1985. The shooting came days before Giolias was due to release an investigative series on corruption.

The guerrilla gang Sect of Revolutionaries later claimed responsibility for the murder although no one has ever been arrested.

Karaivaz had not received death threats and had no idea he might have been on a hitlist, colleagues said.

SOURCE