Greek police have new evidence on the Olympia museum robbery; I have new questions.

Allegedly, Greek intelligence have used phone-tapping, and Greek police now have information on the robbery of the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece. However, no-one has been arrested, and the new claims seem to make the previous ones even less reliable than before.

Below, I query the identity (or identification) of the suspects; the method of the police investigation; the quantity and quality of the evidence; and the police’s theory on the crime and the criminals who committed it. (At the end, I summarise the five key new questions.)

Over the past three months, I have contacted the police publicly and privately (to correct the information in their appeal; to offer them my English-language translations of their appeal materials; to ask for clarification of details; and to ask for the release of new information); I have contacted Culture Minister Pavlos Yeroulanos publicly (correcting the mistakes in the appeal and asking for the correct version of contradictorily-reported events); and I have contacted Culture Ministry staff privately (to correct the information in their appeal). But I have not received a single reply; and nothing has changed.

A few weeks ago, Espresso News’ Theodosis Panou reported a Trap for the Robber of Ancient Olympia [Καρτέρι στον ληστή της Αρχαίας Ολυμπίας]. But nothing has happened – the trap has not been triggered – and the new story of the police investigation bring into question the old narrative.

Waiting for the perp to make a mistake

According to Panou,

The prosecuting authorities are waiting for the [perpetrator’s] fatal mistake in order to put handcuffs on the man that they believe is behind the major robbery in Ancient Olympia. The men [sic] of the Greek Police have spread their nets and await most patiently the moment when he will try to take the rare objects out onto the black market to sell them.

[Το μοιραίο λάθος περιμένουν οι διωκτικές αρχές για να περάσουν χειροπέδες στον άνθρωπο που πιστεύουν ότι βρίσκεται πίσω από τη μεγάλη κλοπή στην Αρχαία Ολυμπία. Οι άντρες της ΕΛ.ΑΣ. έχουν απλώσει τα δίχτυα τους και περιμένουν πλέον υπομονετικά τη στιγμή που θα προσπαθήσει να βγάλει τα σπάνια αντικείμενα στη μαύρη αγορά για να τα πουλήσει.]

The police have focused on two people – one Greek, one Albanian. They put them under ‘discreet surveillance [διακριτική παρακολούθηση]’. The police want ‘to catch the perpetrators in the act…. either at the time they close the deal for the sale, or during the delivery of the objects to foreign or Greek antiquities dealers [να πιάσουν τους δράστες επ’ αυτοφώρω…. ή την ώρα που θα κλείνουν τη συμφωνία για την πώληση ή κατά τη διάρκεια της παράδοσης των αντικειμένων σε ξένους ή Ελληνες αρχαιοκαπήλους]’.

Are these the same two people whom the Greek police confidently suspected before? They questioned and released an Albanian at the end of February. Do the Greek police consider detention and interrogation to be ‘discreet surveillance’?

A criminal mastermind or a dirty dealer?

According to highly crossed [corroborating/corroborated] information, the police officers who are investigating the case are convinced that the Greek, even in the event that he did not participate in the great robbery, does know the perpetrators and will play an active role in the sale of the ancient objects.

[Σύμφωνα με άριστα διασταυρωμένες πληροφορίες, οι αστυνομικοί που ερευνούν την υπόθεση είναι πεπεισμένοι πως ο Ελληνας, ακόμα και στην περίπτωση που δεν είχε συμμετοχή στη μεγάλη ληστεία, γνωρίζει τους δράστες και θα παίξει ενεργό ρόλο στην πώληση των αρχαίων αντικειμένων.]

Apparently, when the police say that their suspect will not talk ‘easily [εύκολα]’ and that they will have ‘to learn the secrets that he hides by other methods [να μάθουν τα μυστικά που κρύβει με άλλες μεθόδους]’, they mean that they have evidence from wire-tapping.

Is the man who is now suspected of the future crime of selling the illicit antiquities the same man who was previously suspected of masterminding their theft? If so, how good was the police’s previous evidence; and how much better is their new evidence?

Evidence from phone-tapping(?)

The Greek National Intelligence Service (Εθνική Υπηρεσία Πληροφοριών (ΕΥΠ)) has been involved since the very beginning. The Greek Intelligence Service’s phone-tapping is ‘key [καθοριστική]’ to the investigation, and ‘has led the investigations in one primary direction [έχουν οδηγήσει τις έρευνες σε μια πρώτη κατεύθυνση]’ (that the artefacts are still in Greece).

When the police questioned the Albanian suspect in February, did they have no evidence; did they have no reasonable cause for suspicion? If they have had significant forensic evidence for three months, and have had significant wire-tap evidence for at least a month (assuming it wasn’t reported on the day it was recovered), why have the police been unable to make any arrests?

Is the Mycenaean gold ring in Switzerland or southern Greece?

The investigating officers are most interested in the Mycenaean gold ring, which is ‘one of a kind and of great commercial value [μοναδικό στο είδος του και με μεγάλη εμπορική αξία]’. The police are keen for the ring ‘not to leave the country and be found in the private collection of some super-rich European, who will lock it in his office for his eyes only [να μη βγει από τη χώρα το δαχτυλίδι και βρεθεί στην ιδιωτική συλλογή κάποιου ζάπλουτου Ευρωπαίου, ο οποίος θα το κλειδώσει στο γραφείο του προς τέρψιν των δικών του οφθαλμών]’.

Before, the Greek police believed that many of the artefacts were in Switzerland, and that the artefacts’ presence in Switzerland proved that the robbery was a professional heist.

Now, according to the Greek authorities’ and Interpol’s information, ‘the Mycenaean ring has not left the country [το μυκηναϊκό δαχτυλίδι δεν έχει φύγει από τη χώρα μας]’. A well-informed Greek police officer says they are ‘optimistic [αισιοδοξο[ι]]’ that ‘they will find [not only] the perpetrators of the great robbery, but also the objects that they stole from the museum [θα εντοπίσουμε τους δράστες της μεγάλης κλοπής, αλλά και τα αντικείμενα που άρπαξαν από το μουσείο]’.

So, have the police changed their minds; or do the police still believe that the robbery was a professional heist, a robbery-to-order to supply international art dealers?

Five key new questions

So, I have five key new questions about this old case:

  1. If these are the same two people whom the police confidently suspected before, do the police consider detention and interrogation to be ‘discreet surveillance’?
  2. How good was the police’s previous evidence; and how much better is their new evidence?
  3. Did the Greek police have reasonable cause to suspect the Albanian they questioned and released in February?
  4. If the police have significant forensic and phone-tapping evidence, why have they been unable to make any arrests?
  5. Do the police still believe that the robbery was a professional heist to supply the international art market?

Skai’s dismay, Tsantiri’s disbelief

I happened upon this political sideshow to the robbery case.

On the day of the robbery, Skai Media Group’s Managing Director, Yiannis Alafouzos (@Yalafouzos) commented: ‘Armed robbery at the museum of Olympia. When will we hit rock-bottom? The desperation continues. The rape of a nation… [Ένοπλη ληστεία στο μουσείο της Ολυμπίας. Πότε θα πιάσουμε πάτο. Η απελπισία συνεχίζεται. Ο βιασμός μίας πατρίδας…]’

Tsantiri News blogged that Alafouzos ‘[was] “mourning [Θρηνεί]”‘. It queried, ‘since when did the pain of the rape of the homeland touch you, Mr. Alafouzos? All this time, haven’t you and your channel been doing everything you can to make our rape and humiliation complete? [από πότε κύριε Αλαφούζο σας έπιασε ο πόνος για το βιασμό της πατρίδας; Εσείς και το κανάλι σας δεν κάνετε όλο αυτόν τον καιρό ό,τι μπορείτε για να κάνετε το βιασμό και τον εξευτελισμό μας τέλειο;]’

Tsantiri News continued: ‘Aren’t they your journalists who from morning ’til night propagandise, with foaming mouths, for our submission and selling-out? [Οι δημοσιογράφοι οι δικοί σας δεν είναι που από το πρωί μέχρι το βράδυ προπαγανδίζουν, με αφρισμένα στόματα, την υποταγή και το ξεπούλημά μας;]’ It insisted, ‘no more crocodile tears, dear! This homeland is ours, not yours! [Όχι άλλα κροκοδείλια δάκρυα αγαπητέ! Αυτή η πατρίδα είναι δική μας, όχι δική σας!]’


The University of the Aegean’s Cultural Technology Instructor, Thomas Mavrofides (@blacktom1961), stated: ‘migrants aren’t taking over your country, the IMF and the EU are taking it over. And Mega, Skai, who propel xenophobia and support the IMF. Wake up! [Δεν παίρνουν οι μετανάστες τη χώρα σου, το ΔΝΤ κι η ΕΕ την παίρνουν. Και τα MEGA, ΣΚΑΙ, που προωθούν την ξενοφοβία και στηρίζουν ΔΝΤ. Ξύπνα!]’

Skai Media Group’s Managing Director, Yiannis Alafouzos (@Yalafouzos), responded sarcastically: ‘@blacktom1961 so 1m illegal immigrants – Muslims – don’t dangerously alter the character of the city? Obviously you’re a fan of Skai [@blacktom1961 δηλαδή 1m παράνομοι μετανάστες -μουσουλμάνοι- δεν αλλοιώνουν επικίνδυνα τον χαρακτήρα της πόλις ; Προφανώς είστε fan του ΣΚΑΙ]’.

Obviously, it is a separate issue; but it is a character-defining one. The insertion of ‘Muslims’ into the question suggests that Alafouzos’s main concern is not illegal immigration but Muslim immigration (as, presumably, one million illegal Christian immigrants would not alter the city’s character, whereas one million legal Muslim immigrants would).

1: Εθνική Υπηρεσία Πληροφοριών (ΕΥΠ) [National Intelligence Service].

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