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Prison guards suspended over 'copter escape

  • Story Highlights
  • Prison warden arrested, 8 guards suspended after 2 inmates escape in 'copter
  • Justice minister is also cracking down on mobile phone use by prisoners
  • Helicopter hovered over roof, lowered rope ladders to two inmates
  • The prison break is the second escape for one of the inmates
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ATHENS, Greece (CNN) -- Greek officials have suspended eight prison guards after two inmates staged a dramatic helicopter escape, the Greek Ministry of Justice said Tuesday.

Police at Korydallos prison after the daring escape.

Police at Korydallos prison after the daring escape.

The guards who were suspended include two head guards, the Justice Ministry said. Officials suspended them while investigating their possible involvement in the escape, the ministry said.

Inmates Vassilis Paleokostas, 42, and Alket Riza, 34, escaped Sunday in a helicopter that had been hijacked from Athens International Airport.

A pilot and two other people were aboard the aircraft. The men climbed up rope ladders dangled from the helicopter to the roof of a prison building, the Justice Ministry said.

Justice Minister Nicholas Dendia also said he has asked prosecutors to open all files of the prisoners and guards and other employees in the wing of the prison in which the escape occurred.

"The government believes that the escape could not have succeeded without inside participation," Dendia said in a written statement.

The eight suspensions follow the arrests Monday of the prison warden, the helicopter's pilot and two prison officials, the justice ministry said.

In addition, the director of the maximum-security Korydallos Prison, the prison's security secretary and the head of inspection and control have resigned.

The helicopter and its pilot -- who was gagged -- were later found north of Athens, a state-run media report said. Video Watch more about the dramatic escape »

The escapees are still at large.


The government has proposed legislation requiring identification for anyone buying prepaid cards for mobile phones and plans to install devices to track the use of mobile phones in prisons, Dendia said.

The escape was the second by helicopter from the same prison for Paleokostas, who was convicted for abducting a businessman. He first escaped in June 2006, but was recaptured several months later and returned to the prison.

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