Taki Taki

High Life | 28 February 2009

Tale of derring-do

Vassilis Paleokostas is the Arsène Lupin of the Olive Republic, aka Hellas or Greece. He is by profession a bank robber, known for his impeccable manners but unfortunate jowly, plebeian looks. He is 42 years of age, a ladies’ man, and Greece’s most wanted man. Three years ago, Vassilis managed a daring escape from the high-security Korydallos prison of Piraeus via helicopter. The chopper landed in the exercise yard, Vassilis hopped in and was flown off to freedom.

All hell broke loose following his sudden departure. The newspapers accused the government of incompetence, the government blamed prison officials for watching porno films instead of the prisoners, but the buck stopped when the chief screw came up with a brilliant idea. He called a press conference and announced that Vassilis’s escape would be the last one ever attempted via air because a large net would be installed over the yard. Cheers and congratulations all around, and then life returned to normal in Korydallos. There was only one problem. Prison officials forgot to put up the net.

Vassilis, in the meantime, along with his brother and an Albanian low-lifer, did not remain idle. Taking inspiration from their Italian counterparts, they kidnapped Milonas, an important industrialist from Salonica, demanded and got six million euros from his coffers, and then deposited him safe and sound at his front door. Anarchists and envious types all over Greece cheered. It was good guys (bad) one, rich people zero. Then the fuzz got lucky and Vassilis ended up back in Korydallos.

This time the government acted smart. They split up the brothers, knowing full well that Vassilis would never try to escape without his sibling, who was sent to do time in a jail far away. Last Saturday, three years to the day of his first helicopter getaway, Vassilis did it again.

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