Greece helicopter prison escape attempt foiled

Feb 25, 2013 - by - 0 Comments

Feb. 24, 2013 Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A helicopter swooped down on a prison courtyard Sunday as armed men on board fired on guards and lowered a rope to help a convicted killer make his fourth attempt to escape from a Greek prison.

But the plot was foiled after the prisoner was shot and the chopper forced to land in the prison's parking lot.

The dramatic escape attempt was one of a handful involving helicopters in Greece, and the first time such plans have failed.

Authorities said the chartered helicopter — carrying two armed passengers, a pilot and a technician — first tried to rip off the chicken-wire fence surrounding Trikala prison with a hook dangling from a rope. But that didn't work, so a rope was lowered down to whisk away Panagiotis Vlastos. Another prisoner, an unnamed Albanian national also in the courtyard at the time, may also have been part of the escape plan.

At the same time, the armed passengers used AK-47 assault rifles to fire on the prison guards. One guard, who was inside a post, was slightly injured by shards of flying glass. He and others returned fire, injuring Vlastos, who had managed to climb into the helicopter, as well as the helicopter's technician. Vlastos fell from a height of about 3 meters (10 feet) into the courtyard, and the helicopter was eventually grounded in the parking lot.

Vlastos, 43, is a convicted murderer and racketeer serving a life term who had tried and failed three times before to escape from prison.

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