Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, Combined News Agenies)
Journalist Giorgos Karaivaz, 52, was murdered outside his home in Alimos, on the southern coast of Attica, on Friday, at 14:15. Nine bullets from two 9 mm pistols hit his body, two of them on the head. Witnesses reported two men on a motorbike, possibly a scooter, who fired multiple shots at the victim. The culprits then took off in an unknown direction.
Police collected 17 shells from a firearm, and police are also taking testimonies from the victim’s circle. It was reported on Saturday that a video collected by the Police shows the two men executing Karaivaz and leave.
According to a police source, the journalist had not reported any threats against him nor asked for police protection.
Greek Police (ELAS) is focusing on the testimonies of two witnesses to shed light on the assassination. The two witnesses, who were near the crime scene, said the two attackers were riding on a small motorcycle, most likely a scooter, with which they escaped. The driver was said to be wearing a helmet or cap and the co-driver was wearing a military jacket and a surgical mask. The witnesses also told police that the killer first shot Karaivaz while he still on the motorcycle and then got off and walked towards the victim for the final hit.
ELAS believes the victim was followed by the suspects from his workplace on a daytime show on Star TV to his house.
Karaivaz was on the police beat from the 90s, and worked on Star TV (“Alithies me ti Zina” program). He also ran the bloko.gr web page and had worked for many years on Antenna TV, which he left in 2017. He was married with a child.
During the recent weeks he was investigating the assassination of Dimitris Kapetanakis, a crime figure also involved in armed robberies and assassinations and the case of accused rapist and pedophile Dimitris Lignadis.
Flowers were left Friday on the spot where the slain journalist fell.
One of Greece’s longest-tenured and best known crime reporters, Karaivaz was married with a 21-year-old son. A statement on Karaivaz’s blog confirmed his death, and said he was targeted because of his work.
“Somebody chose to silence him, to stop him with bullets from writing his stories,” it said.
A police officer who knew the journalist praised his work, saying “he was extremely intelligent and one of the few fighting reporters in the field”.
“It was not his style to request protection,” the police officer told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Hours before Karaivaz’ murder, Citizen’s Protection Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis had suggested in parliament that the state protection system was being exploited by ‘(rodents) of the public sphere’ who did not deserve it.
“For the last 20 years, every (police) minister has tried to take back (officers) from ‘VIP duty’ and put them back on the front line,” the minister said.
In 2010, while Michalis Chrysochoidis was once more Minister of Public Order, another journalist, Socratis Golias, was also assassinated. The killers still remain at large.
At the time, state TV NET said he had been working on a story about corruption. A shadowy far-left group claimed responsibility for the crime but the case was never solved.
In July, tabloid newspaper 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.
Chios accused then the Government for plotting to kill him. On Friday he repeated the accusation, blaming the government for Karaivaz’s assassination. An Athens prosecutor ordered for his arrest, for spreading false information, something strange, because it presumes the authorities know who the killers are.
Although EU leaders, including Ursula Von der Leyen issued statements immediately condemning the assassination, it took 20 hours ton Prime Minister Mitsotakis to do so, following a briefing by Minister C hrysochoidis. No statement was issued by the New Democracy party.
“Europe stands for freedom. And freedom of press may be the most sacred of all. Journalists must be able to work safely. My thoughts are with the family of George Karaivaz. I hope the criminals are soon brought to justice,” EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen tweeted Friday.
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”.
In a statement issued on Friday, expressing media sentiment as well, government spokesperson Aristoteli Peloni said, “His murder has shocked us all.” She added that “authorities are investigating the case so that perpetrators be arrested and brought to justice,” and expressed “sorrow and condolences to his family and friends.”
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis requested the swift solving of the murder case of journalist Giorgos Karaivaz, in a meeting with Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis held at Maximos Mansion on Saturday.
After the meeting, Chrysochoidis said the murder of Giorgos Karaivaz is a “repulsive crime”, and that the prime minister explicitly called for a speedy investigation and solving of the case.
“Greece’s democracy pays special respect to the notion of free press and the protection of one’s rights. Very soon Greek Police will find the culprits and hand them over to justice. I express my deep and sincere condolences to the family of Giorgos Karaivaz,” noted the minister.
On Twitter, Mitsotakis expressed his deep condolences to Karaivaz’s family, and added that “his murder has shocked the entire society.”
SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras said that despite government claims to standing public order and security, “they have let the country become a colony of organized crime and of mafia rings’ uncontrollable activity,” in social media on Saturday.
Tsipras’ statements came in reaction to the Friday murder of crime journalist Giorgos Karaivaz by drive-by shooters outside his home in the coastal Athens suburb of Alimos.
“When a journalist is murdered democracy is wounded,” he added. “An atmosphere of insecurity then envelops the world of media and society at large.”
“[He] was one of the most experienced crime reporters in the field… and was held in high regard by colleagues,” the ESIEA union of Athens daily newspaper journalists said in a statement.
The federation of Greek police officers said Karaivaz was interested in improving working conditions for law enforcement and was “strongly critical of anybody” standing in their union’s way.
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.”
In response to the killing of journalist Giorgos Karaivaz, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“We strongly condemn this fatal shooting of veteran crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz, express our deep condolences to his family and colleagues, and call on Greek police to conduct a swift, transparent, and thorough investigation into his killing,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna. “Authorities must determine whether Karaivaz was targeted for his work, and should do everything possible to find the killers and bring them to justice.”
Similar statement of condemnation of the killing was issued by the Reporters without Frontiers.