Investigative reporter gunned down in Athens

New York, July 19, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists is outraged by today’s murder in Athens of Sokratis Giolias, 37, director of the private radio station Thema 98.9 and contributor to the popular online news blog Troktiko. CPJ urges Greek police to thoroughly investigate the killing.

At least two men reportedly dressed in police or security uniforms shot Giolias, left, after luring him out of his apartment in the Ilioupolis suburb of Athens at around 5 a.m., claiming his car was being stolen, according to regional and international news reports.

Thema 98.9 is a news and entertainment broadcaster, but Troktiko often covers social and political scandals, news reports said. The slain reporter’s colleagues told the BBC that Giolias was about to publish results of an investigation into corruption in the country, but did not go into details. “Somebody wanted to silence a very good investigative reporter who had stepped on a lot of toes with his stories,” Panos Sobolos, president of the Athens journalists union, told the BBC.

“We send our condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Sokratis Giolias,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “Greek police must conduct a thorough probe into our colleague’s murder, and we urge them to consider his journalism as a possible motive.”

According to The Associated Press, forensic experts collected 16 bullet casings from the murder scene that Athens police said matched two 9 mm handguns used by a local radical group called Sect of Revolutionaries, which formed during widespread rioting over a police shooting of a teenage boy December 2008. Athens police also found a burned-out sedan they said they believe was getaway car, AP said.

Greek authorities condemned the journalist’s murder and called it “cowardly and cold-blooded,” AP reported.