Greek hijacker in suicide plunge from police HQ

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The Independent Online

A Greek hijacker hurled himself to his death from the seventh floor of a police station yesterday after taking a busload of Japanese tourists hostage and then surrendering to a television talkshow host.

A Greek hijacker hurled himself to his death from the seventh floor of a police station yesterday after taking a busload of Japanese tourists hostage and then surrendering to a television talkshow host.

The suicide ended a two-day drama of murder and televised hostage-taking with embarrassment for the Greek police, who had managed to end the hijacking on Saturday without the hostages being harmed.

Police said Christos Kendiras, dived through a window at central Athens police headquarters as he was being processed for transfer to a prosecutor.

Kendiras bolted from officers as his handcuffs were removed to allow him to be fingerprinted and photographed, ran about six metres into an office and crashed through a closed glass window, a police statement said. "This is not one of the good moments for the Greek police," Dimitris Efstathiadis, a senior public order ministry official, told reporters.

Kendiras had threatened to kill himself during a nine-hour-long hijacking on Saturday in which he held 35 people, mainly elderly Japanese tourists, at gunpoint. He was to have been taken to the public prosecutor in the port of Piraeus to be charged with two killings and the hijacking.

Kendiras's odyssey, played out on television across the world, began on Saturday morning when he killed his mother-in-law and a man he believed was having an affair with his wife in his home town, Galatas on the Peloponnese peninsula.

Driving to the ancient archaeological site of Epidavros, Kendiras set fire to his car and then hijacked a bus carrying 32 Japanese tourists, mostly in their 60s and 70s, a Greek and a Japanese tour guide and a Greek driver.

Police said he made no demands other than a desire to explain his unhappy family tale to the media. He spent much of the day talking to television stations on a mobile telephone.

The crisis ended with a near-surreal twist when Kendiras, who was in his late forties, surrendered to the talkshow host Makis Triandafyllopoulos, and had a 10-minute drink and chat with him, before being handed over to authorities.

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