Δευτέρα, 12 Μαΐου 2008

Police? I think I'll call my bowling team instead.

Greek "Chips"...


Hello people,

As an interesting cultural observation, notice how facebook has gotten into the fabric of our lives: I am already seeing the results of the gas stations strike in Athens through my friends's status updates. They range from "Did anyone manage to get to work today? I stole my father's car!!" to "GIVE ME GAS, DUUUUUUDE!!!"
Because of course, the cab drivers are also on strike.

Anyway. On to another interesting story, although a much less funny one.

Last week, the news kept showing the shocking story of an escaped convict who killed a father of two while on the run. The most shocking part was not even the murder itself, but the stupidity/ineptitude of the Greek police, who not only left the guy unchained in an open van (no handcuffs or anything) - but get this: one cop even obligingly left his gun in a bag next to the guy.

Way to go, Greek police!

So the guy grabbed the policeman's gun, exited the van, jumped into a civilian car and ordered its terrified owner to drive at gunpoint. After a while, the convict got out and took yet another car and its driver as hostages. Those two escaped unharmed. Meanwhile, where was the police? I believe they were tamely following behind - in any case, not doing their job.

Finally, the convict jumped onto a bus and ordered the driver to go someplace. I am not sure of the details, whether the guy refused or called the cops - in any case, they were too late as usual. The convict shot the bus driver dead - with the cop's gun - before the police caught him.

Who's more guilty? The convict or the cop?

This reminded me of another escapee story that took place last year. A police van transporting 3 prisoners - including one notoriously dangerous Russian mafia guy - had a similar incident. In the middle of the 5-hour transport to the northern jail where they would be imprisoned, the Russian guy asked if he could pee.

The Greeks, being fundamentally decent folk, not only agreed to stop the van so this hardened convict could pee, but one guy even took off his handcuffs so he would have it easier. Agreed, bovine stupidity, but stupidity that was motivated by kindness nonetheless. That's what made the ensuing events so sad.

For guess how the Russian guy thank his kindhearted guards? Yep, he grabbed the cop's gun as soon as his hands were free and shot him dead, then killed another cop and wounded the third.

The Russian then escaped into the Greek mountains close to the Albanian border. He was followed by one of the other convicts, an Albanian. The third convict (also an Albanian, I believe) wisely decided to stay in the van and told the entire story to the authorities when they finally arrived. A manhunt ensued for several days, after which both escaped convicts were recaptured.

But these incidents beg the question: where do Greek police officers get their training? At the local fairgrounds? "Get a free police license if you manage to shoot the duck!" Or are they all nephews/cousins/godsons of high graded police officers? "Failed your exams for the 7th time? No problem! Uncle Takis will get you in the force!"

Thank god we do not have a very high rate of criminality compared to other Western countries - or most of the police force would probably have been wiped out already.
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SOME FEEDBACK ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER:
John T:
"The most shocking part was not even the murder itself..." I think you've been in Greece for too long.
Linus L:
I can't help but think how your life would be in danger if the authorities had the wits to actually hack into your computer and see these emails.
Keep fighting the good fight Laura! We miss you and the Belgian flag thing was absolutely hilarious.

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