Sat, Jun 11, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Police help nab fugitive

COOPERATION Police helped Interpol track down a Greek fugitive wanted for scandals involving the Greek Orthodox Church, leading to his arrest in Italy in April


When Greek fugitive Apostolos Vavilis was arrested in April in Italy after a 10-week international manhunt, most people were likely not aware that Taiwan's police played a crucial role in the operation leading to his arrest.

In late February, George Vanikiotis, Greece's representative to Interpol, requested that the nation's police forces assist in tracing Vavilis, according to the International Criminal Affairs Section of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB).

A key figure in a string of scandals involving the Orthodox Church of Greece, Vavilis was believed to have fled to Taiwan or another country with the help of his Taiwanese friends.

Based on information provided by Greek police, the CIB discovered that Vavilis had departed for Thailand and had made hundreds of flight reservations to try to shake off police.

The CIB was told that Vavilis maintained close links with the church and political communities in Greece, Europe and the Middle East, and used at least six different identities.

After analyzing the flight information, the CIB concluded that Vavilis could have headed for Rome via Bangkok and Athens using the alias Antonios Aivaliotis, and passed the information to Greek police.

Greek police later spotted him in Italy by monitoring his e-mail and credit card use, and he was arrested in the Italian city of Bologna on April 22, holding a fake Greek passport under the name of Antonios Aivaliotis.

The incident marked the first time the nation's police have taken part in a joint operation launched by Interpol, and the Greek and Italian authorities. It was also its first participation in the hunt for a criminal wanted by the European Police Office.

This story has been viewed 4510 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top