Convicted murderer and racketeering criminal Panagiotis Vlastos made a fourth attempt at escaping captivity from a Greek prison via helicopter on Sunday. This time, just like his previous three escape attempts, it failed.
Prison authorities stated that a chartered helicopter, containing two armed passengers, the pilot and a technician, came upon the Greek prison in order to break out Vlastos. The passengers’s first phase of the prison escape involved ripping off the prison fence’s chicken wire so that Vlastos, 43, could climb over the gate. This attempt failed.
The helicopter’s passengers moved on to their next plan by lowering a climbable rope that would assist in whisking Vlastos away from the prison courtyard. The armed passengers attempted to foil the prison authorities efforts by shooting at them with AK-47’s. A prison guard was reported to have been injured by shards of glass as he worked inside his post.
The dramatic scene began to unfold when the prison guards traded gunfire with the armed passengers as Vlastos climbed into the helicopter. Vlastos was eventually shot and wounded in the legs. He reportedly fell 10 feet from the helicopter after being injured. The helicopter’s technician hand was reported to have been wounded during this escape attempt, too.
The helicopter was forced to land in the prison parking lot. Prison authorities captured Vlastos, who was in the middle of serving a life sentence for his crimes. A second prisoner, who was noted as an unidentified Albanian national, was said to have been connected to this prison escape attempt as well.
Police officials don’t know if the helicopter’s pilot and flight technician willingly participated in this prison escape or if they were forced to. The Associated Press reported that the helicopter was hired from a western Athens, Greece suburb and was originally set for Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
The helicopter never made it there, as its flight plan was diverted to Trikala Prison to retrieve Panagiotis Vlastos. Video footage of the downed helicopter can be seen below:
Vlastos has tried to escape three times prior back in 1994, 1998 and 2011. His 2011 attempt featured Vlastos trying to escape with three members of the radical anarchist group, Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire. After a five hour standoff, the four prisoners surrendered to Korydallos police officials.
Vlastos was initially jailed in 1994 for the murder of two members of a rival criminal gang. He was convicted in 2012 for being the man behind the kidnapping of Pericles Panagopoulos. Vlastos’ 2011 prison escape transpired during his wait for his criminal trial for the kidnapping.
What makes this story even more interesting is the fact that this isn’t the first time a helicopter has been used in a prison break attempt in Greece. In 1996, convicted criminals Vassilis Paleokostas and Alket Rizaj escaped from Korydallos prison in Athens by chopper. Both men were eventually caught, but they made a second successful escape attempt back in 2009 also using a helicopter. Paleokostas and Rizaj are still at large.