A prominent Greek journalist has been shot dead near his home in the capital, Athens, in a rare crime targeting a member of the media that shocked colleagues and drew widespread condemnation.
Giorgos Karaivaz, who specialised in crime reporting and worked for private station Star TV, was returning home from work when he was ambushed by two individuals on a motorbike shortly after 2pm on Friday.
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Preliminary reports said the perpetrators used a weapon with a silencer as they fired multiple rounds. Seventeen bullet casings were collected from the scene in Alimos, a southern Athens suburb, according to reports.
“I tried to park my car where he lay. I thought someone had fainted. He was lying face down … blood was flowing onto the sidewalk,” a woman who lives in the neighbourhood told reporters.
Police have launched a manhunt for the unidentified assailants. There were no immediate reports of a possible motive, however, police said the murder was clearly carefully planned.
Flowers were left on the spot where the slain journalist, who worked for several Greek newspapers and broadcast media in a career that spanned decades, fell.
“I can’t even process this information, I’ve known this man for 32 years,” fellow Star journalist Vaios Syrros said during the station’s afternoon news show.
“Truly shocked,” Greek journalist Stelios Nikitopoulos wrote on Twitter.
A statement on Karavaiz’s blog said: “The founder and owner of bloko.gr is no longer with us.
“Somebody chose to silence him, to stop him with bullets from writing his stories,” it said.
Politicians from across Greece’s parliamentary spectrum condemned the killing and offered their condolences.
Government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said the murder “shocked us all”, adding that authorities are “already investigating the case”. Syriza, the main opposition party, demanded perpetrators be brought to justice.
Echoing the call, the journalists’ union expressed its “deep sorrow” in a statement and stressed it will “defend the freedom of the press and the unimpeded work of journalists against any pressure and threat”, including “against mafia practices and criminal plans”.
#Greece: IPI is extremely alarmed by multiple reports of the fatal shooting of Greek journalist Giorgos Karaivaz in #Athens today. Early reporting suggests gunmen used a silenced weapon to assassinate the veteran crime reporter before fleeing on a moped.https://t.co/XHMESzH0b3
— IPI – The Global Network for Press Freedom (@globalfreemedia) April 9, 2021
The Media Freedom Rapid Response, a project which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in Europe, said it was “horrified by this killing, which from current information appears to bear all the signs of a targeted assassination”.
It added: “Regardless of the motive, the killing of Giorgos Karaivaz is a tragic event for the journalistic community in Greece and a dark day for media freedom in the European Union.”
“I am deeply shocked following reports that journalist Giorgos Karaivaz was shot dead in Athens,” vice president of the EU commission in charge of values and transparency, Vera Jourova, said in a tweet.
“My thoughts are with his family and colleagues. Justice should be served, and the safety of the journalists should be guaranteed,” she added.
Killings of journalists are rare in Greece.
In 2010, radio manager, blogger and investigative journalist Socratis Giolias was also shot dead outside his home in Athens.