A Court of Appeals council in Athens on Monday rejected an extradition request by Spanish authorities concerning a 51-year-old Georgian national wanted on a European arrest warrant as the leader of an alleged international criminal ring.
The man is accused of controlling organised crime rings in various European countries.
He was arrested on January 21, 2012, in a luxury hotel in Athens’ coastal resort of Vouliagmeni. A European arrest warrant issued by the Spanish authorities and an Interpol “red notice” were outstanding against the suspect, who is accused of setting up a criminal organisation, money laundering and attempted homicide, all allegedly committed in Spain in 2009.
The judicial council in Athens decided against his extradition to Spain after finding that the acts for which he faces charges were committed in Greece and therefore, he should be tried in Greek courts. A Thessaloniki examining magistrate issued a warrant for his arrest last Friday, and within the next few hours, the suspect is expected to appear before a prosecutor in Thessaloniki.
A large number of Russian and Georgian organised crime members were arrested in March 2010 within the framework of a major police operation launched by Spanish authorities across Europe.
A manhunt for the arrest of the 51-year-old had taken place in Thessaloniki at the time, but he had managed to flee. After his capture last January, Spanish media reports alleged that he had bribed police officers with 800,000 euros to let him escape in the first place. An investigation into the allegations is currently underway by Greek Police.