Olympia museum robbery suspects remanded; plead poverty

Two of the three arrested for the Olympia museum robbery have been remanded and one has been released; at least two others, and maybe more, are still wanted.

There is DNA evidence tying the 41-year-old “mastermind” to the tools used in the crime (through material left at the scene of the crime), and he has accepted total responsibility; but the evidence suggests that he must have had at least one (equal) partner-in-crime, not just odd-job men.

Forensic evidence

The Criminal Investigations Directorate of the Greek Police have conducted laboratory tests on the section of adhesive tape (τμήμα κολλητικής ταινίας) and the piece of fabric (τεμάχιο υφάσματος) left by the perpetrators on the premises of the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games, and have recovered the ‘biological material [DNA] of one of the arrested and specifically of the 41-year-old [βιολογικό υλικό, ενός εκ των συλληφθέντων και συγκεκριμένα του 41χρονου]’.

Selling ancient Greek gold in a public square

It hasn’t been stated precisely how ‘[a]uthorities in Patra had learned that someone was looking to sell an ancient ring’ (maybe a phone-tap, maybe a tip-off – probably a tip-off), but they did it ‘about a month ago’, and it can’t have been difficult: the suspects’ own lawyers had to acknowledge that ‘they went out into [a public] square [in the city centre], seeking buyers [βγήκαν στην πλατεία Υψηλών Αλωνίων, αναζητώντας αγοραστή]’ for ancient Greek gold.

Poverty and despair?

The suspects were supposed to appear before an investigating magistrate on both Monday and Tuesday, but they twice got extensions to prepare their defence and went on Wednesday instead. Their lawyers’ (paraphrased) argument is that they ‘were not professional robbers but had been driven to robbery by desperation‘.

Their lawyers argue that ‘the arrested were in despair because of the economic crisis and, instead of hanging themselves from an olive tree or jumping from the sixth floor of an apartment block, as others do, they committed this act [οι συλληφθέντες ήταν σε απόγνωση, λόγω της οικονομικής κρίσης και αντί να κρεμαστούν από την ελιά ή να πηδήξουν από τον έκτο όροφο μιας πολυκατοικίας, όπως κάνουν άλλοι, έκαναν αυτή την ενέργεια]’.

The 41-year-old unemployed man and the 50-year-old contractor have been remanded in custody awaiting trial. Reportedly, despite their lawyers’ having argued that they were all destitute and desperate, the bench-for-an-office, cigarette-lighter-selling “mastermind” wants ‘to take full responsibility for the robbery’, arguing that he was ‘compelled to commit the crime because of financial problems‘.

The leader doth confess too much?

Presumably, with the DNA evidence of his role in the theft and the sting evidence of his role in the illicit sale, the “mastermind” can only admit his guilt. Seemingly, in the worst economic position of all of the key players, he hopes to take the heat off them by claiming complete responsibility, and to receive a lenient sentence by pleading poverty.

However, he and/or his team had access to at least one AK47 and one pistol, neither of which are cheap for nor easily-acquired by itinerant bench-top cigarette-lighter-salesmen. At least one person in the team had a car (even if they had it in order to get to a minimum-wage job). And Athens is about 200km from Patra by road, about 250km from Olympia; Patra is still about 100km from Olympia (and Olympia was not on the “mastermind”‘s way between Athens and Patra); so at least one other person must have been significantly involved in casing the joint and planning the raid.

Minor accomplice released without charge

Despite having been identified as an accomplice by the “mastermind” at the scene of the (final) crime (the attempted illicit sale), and despite his own lawyers’ not having denied his involvement when the (then) three suspects went before prosecutors, the 36-year-old unemployed man has been released without charge.

Seemingly, this is because he wasn’t at all involved in the robbery, and wasn’t actively involved the (attempted) sale; ‘he simply had a role at the end, in the transport of one [suspect] to the rendezvous point where, in exchange,… he would receive 400 euros [είχε απλά ρόλο τώρα στο τέλος, δηλαδή στη μεταφορά του ενός στο σημείο του ραντεβού από όπου… θα έπαιρνε ως οικονομικό αντάλλαγμα περίπου 400 ευρώ]’.


In addition to the five known suspects, ‘other people [may be] involved, either directly or indirectly [εμπλέκονται και άλλα άτομα, είτε άμεσα είτε έμμεσα]’.

Planned [addition (7th December 2012)]

The Olympic museum has already received ‘upgrading and updating of it security systems [αναβάθμιση και επικαιροποίηση των συστημάτων ασφαλείας]’ and greater policing.

Within the Digital Convergence (Ψηφιακή Σύγκλιση) component of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) (Εθνικό Στρατηγικό Πλαίσιο Αναφοράς (ΕΣΠΑ)), there is an €8.5m programme to record, photograph and publish 700,000 artefacts (using new technology).

The documentation ‘cannot physically prevent the thefts, but it does make the sale of stolen goods [on the open market] almost prohibitεd as it operates as a stamp upon them, that they are stolen, therefore it is not possible for them to be displayed publicly without [the thieves] facing justice [δεν μπορεί να αποτρέψει φυσικά τις κλοπές, καθιστά όμως σχεδόν απαγορευτική την πώληση των κλοπιμαίων καθώς λειτουργεί σαν σφραγίδα επάνω τους, ότι είναι κλεμμένα άρα δεν μπορεί να εμφανισθούν δημόσια χωρίς να αντιμετωπίσουν τη δικαιοσύνη]’.

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