Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tragedy or farce?

Sometimes things happen here that make a mockery of the word farce. I was reading up about the hostage taking drama in the German High School (DST) here in Thessaloniki, yesterday a 55 year old man armed with a machine gun, pistol and 5kg of high explosives managed to gain entry to the school and take three people hostage. As you can imagine this quickly became a police matter and the whole area was closed off while police SWAT teams and negotiators went to deal with the situation.

It turned out that the man at the centre of yesterday's events, Constantinos Arabatzis had done exactly the same in 2006, taking over the school, taking hostages and demanding a ransom from the German government. If that wasn't enough the previous incident took place whilst he was on leave from jail in Volos where he was serving a jail term for the kidnapping of two German ex-business partners.

Arabatzis was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the previous school drama but was released after just two years on condition that he report to his local police station regularly, which he did the day before yesterday, then went onto once again terrorise the school.

Luckily, nobody was hurt during yesterday's take over, the school put into action a contingency plan formulated after the events of 2006 and so all the students managed to evacuate the building without being noticed. At 3.25pm Arabatzis surrendered to the the police after protracted negotiations.

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