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Athens inmates escape in helicopter -- again

February 23, 2009|Associated Press

ATHENS — For the second time, the same two robbers escaped from the high-security Korydallos Prison here Sunday by scaling a rope ladder to a hovering helicopter amid a gun battle with guards.

They had been scheduled to appear before a magistrate today about their first escape three years ago.

The shaken government quickly dismissed three Justice Ministry officials: the general secretary of the ministry, the inspector-general of prisons and the head of Korydallos.

Vassilis Paleokostas, 42, and Alket Rizai, 34, were picked up by a helicopter that flew over the prison courtyard, the ministry said. Guards opened fire and a woman on the copter fired back, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

The helicopter was abandoned north of Athens, fuel leaking from a bullet hole. The pilot was bound and gagged. He told police the helicopter was chartered by a couple who later threatened him with an AK-47 rifle and a grenade and forced him to fly to the prison.

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