Greek police capture helicopter fugitive

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2009 8:35 AM

A convicted murderer in Greece who made a dramatic prison escape by helicopter earlier this year was arrested near Athens on Monday, police said.

Alket Rizaj, of Albania, was arrested with a female companion at an isolated house near the town of Marathon, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Athens, Greater Athens crime squad director Yiannis Dikopoulos said.

Rizaj escaped from Greece's largest prison, located in Athens, on Feb. 22 along with bank robber Vassilis Paleokostas, who has not been captured. Both were whisked out of the Korydallos prison in a helicopter rented and then hijacked at gunpoint by their accomplices.

It was the second time they escaped from that prison, staging a repeat of their 2006 chopper getaway. They were both recaptured after the first escape.

The second one caused embarrassment to Greece's previous conservative government, which lost October general elections amid the economic downturn.

On Monday, Rizaj surrendered peacefully after police surrounded the building, Dikopoulos said.

"Police seized two automatic weapons, two handguns, a large amount of ammunition, and several hand grenades," Dikopoulos said. "He changed homes often and used several different cars. We are investigating his possible involvement in any serious crimes since (his escape)."