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Greek journalist killed by gunmen posing as police officers

Prominent Greek journalist killed by gunmen posing as police officers
Journalist Sokratis Giolias gestures outside a courthouse in Athens in this undated file photo. Unknown assailants gunned down the 37-year-old journalist in Athens on July 19, 2010, the first murder of a journalist in Greece in more than 20 years, police said.

Sokratis Giolias, 37, director of the private radio station Thema 98.9 and contributor to the popular online news blog Troktiko was murdered Saturday in Athens. At least two men reportedly dressed in police or security uniforms shot Giolias, after luring him out of his apartment in the Ilioupolis suburb of Athens at around 5 a.m., claiming his car was being stolen, according to regional and international news reports.

Thema 98.9 is a news and entertainment broadcaster, but Troktiko often covers social and political scandals, news reports said. The murdered reporter’s colleagues told the BBC that Giolias was about to publish results of an investigation into corruption in the country, but did not go into details. “Somebody wanted to silence a very good investigative reporter who had stepped on a lot of toes with his stories,” Panos Sobolos, president of the Athens journalists union, told the BBC.

“We send our condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Sokratis Giolias,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Programme Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “Greek police must conduct a thorough probe into our colleague’s murder, and we urge them to consider his journalism as a possible motive.”

According to the Associated Press, forensic experts collected 16 bullet casings from the murder scene that Athens police said matched two 9 mm handguns used by a local radical group called Sect of Revolutionaries, which formed during widespread rioting over a police shooting of a teenage boy December 2008. Athens police also found a burned-out sedan they said they believe was getaway car, AP said.

Greek authorities condemned the journalist’s murder and called it “cowardly and cold-blooded,” AP reported. This is the first murder of a journalist in Greece in well over two decades, although other forms of harassment of the media are not uncommon.

Oliver Vujovic, South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) Secretary-General said, “First and foremost, our condolences go out to Giolias's family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss. This is another black day for journalism and, moreover, journalists as such."

Vujovic added that he was alarmed about the dreadful crime and that, "It is very important to find the person or persons responsible for this killing of a media owner as soon as possible. SEEMO asks the Greek authorities and police to do everything they can to solve the case and to bring to justice those who planned Giolias’s killing and SEEMO therefore welcomes a full police investigation."

“We are deeply alarmed by this brutal murder, and call for a full investigation into whether Giolias’ murder was connected to his work,” said International Press Institute (IPI) Director David Dadge. “The perpetrators must be found and brought to justice. As a European Union country,Greece must demonstrate that this kind of violence will not be tolerated in a democratic society.”

Date posted: July 20, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 253