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Police reporter Giorgos Karaivaz died after ten bullets hit him in the head and chest. The nation is in shock as politicians in Athens react.
"Everything happened so quickly, it took 15 seconds," said an eyewitness who was close to the killing of the Greek journalist Giorgos Karaivazwhen it happened on Friday. The municipal employee, who happened to be near the crime scene on Friday afternoon, described the cold-blooded murder in a southern suburb of the Greek capital Athens on the ANT1 television channel.
He was working with two colleagues in a park in front of the house where the journalist lived, the witness continued. They heard what sounded like a car backfiring, turned around - and saw the killer fire the fatal shots at Karaivaz. Two masked men then rode off on a small motorbike.
According to the police, Giorgos Karaivaz was shot with a "clean" 9-millimeter pistol – a gun unknown to the police. Ten bullets hit him in the chest and head, 13 projectiles were found at the murder scene.
A police spokesman confirmed that Greek security authorities believe it was a contract killing carried out by professional killers. They are investigating "in all directions" in search of the perpetrators and those responsible.
Murders of this kind are rare in Greece. So it is no surprise that the general public and media are in shock. "Welcome to Mexico" was the headline of the daily newspaper "Dimokratia." "We have become the Colombia of the Balkans" stated the front page of "Kontra News".
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis summoned Michalis Chrysochoidis, the Minister for Citizen Protection, to his office. "The cold-blooded murder of journalist George Karaivaz has shocked the whole nation," Mitsotakis tweeted, calling for a swift investigation of the case.
"The murder of Giorgos Karaivaz is a heinous crime," said Minister Chrysochoidis after his meeting with the prime minister, promising that the culprits would be "caught soon by the Greek police, as is the norm."
“Freedom of the press is particularly important for the Greek state," the minister added.
At the same time, Chrysochoidis stressed that Greece had one of the lowest murder rates in all of Europe and that Athens was a safe city. He added that crime and murder also occur in other EU member states - but that the murder of journalists is rare. The only comparable murder victim in Greece over the past 30 years was reporter Sokratis Giolias, who was shot dead outside his home in 2010. The perpetrators were never found.
52-year-old Giorgos Karaivaz was an experienced police reporter and had worked for various renowned newspapers and broadcast media over the decades. For some years he also ran the news blog bloko.gr. He was one of the few investigative journalists in his profession and was considered a friendly, confident colleague and a relaxed person.
Colleagues on the private TV channel STAR stated that Karaivaz had not felt threatened. According to the authorities, he hadn’t applied for a gun license or police protection at any time.
However, the authorities are under public pressure to solve the murder quickly as Karaivaz had recently been researching various shady dealings between corrupt officials and the underworld.
"Those who believe that this is a way to silence journalists are mistaken," insisted Maria Antoniadou, president of the Athens Journalists' Association (ESIEA), in a widely quoted press statement. She arrived at the scene shortly after the murder. Her organization has an additional 6,099 journalists who are organized and "who will continue to investigate. No one will stop journalists from working in Greece".