This Europe: Murderer's wig makes a mockery of Greece's top jail

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The Independent Online

The chaotic state of Greek prisons was exposed this week when a convicted murderer serving a life sentence walked out of the front gate of a maximum security jail with the help of a wig and some glasses.

The chaotic state of Greek prisons was exposed this week when a convicted murderer serving a life sentence walked out of the front gate of a maximum security jail with the help of a wig and some glasses.

Disguised as a doctor and in the company of a prison psychologist, Peter Sedhom escaped from the country's largest prison at Korydallos, outside Athens, on Monday afternoon. A hunt has begun for Sedhom, a 31-year-old American, and the psychologist, Olga Atzamoglou, 45. Ms Atzamoglou's husband and family say they do not know where she is.

Police said Ms Atzamoglou told guardsthe disguised inmate was a colleague. Prison officials admitted the fugitive was not asked for ID and the alarm was not raised until a roll-call five hours later.

Sedhom had served 10 years of a sentence for drug-related offences when he confessed earlier this year to the 1989 murder of a witness in a narcotics investigation. Officials said the man's confession to the 13-year-old murder was an effort to avoid extradition to America, where he is wanted in connection with two more killings.

The Greek Justice Minister, Philippos Petsalnikos, has suspended the prison's governor, chief warden and six guards. A government spokesman described the breakout as "a particularly unfortunate incident". The embarrassment follows a series of setbacks for the Greek police and prison authorities. Three weeks ago, two prisoners escaped by using a spoon to dig their way out of a police cell.

The ageing prison in Korydallos, scheduled for closure in 2004, was widely criticised in January after two inmates died within 72 hours of each other, the first through poisoning and the second committing suicide in suspicious circumstances.

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