Greek police have identified at least 30 officers who are implicated in an illegal citizenship racket, it was revealed on Wednesday.
Following a months-long investigation, the officers are said to have provided foreign nationals with illegal citizenship papers and identification documents in exchange for a fee.
Police sources indicate that the racket appears to have been led by a high-ranking officer at the West Attica Security Division. A raid on his office reportedly uncovered a safe that contained 320,000 euros ($362,000) in cash.
The arrested police officers serve in the Security Departments and Passport Offices of Greater Athens and in particular, in Aspropyrgos, Kallithea, Omonoia and Glyfada.
It is believed that 20 officers have already been arrested, but police sources say that additional are expected to be charged during the main interrogation phase of the investigation.
Greek police in the eye of the storm
The allegations of corruption in the ranks of the Greek police follow several incidents where officers’ actions have been heavily criticized.
In late October, human rights activists accused the Greek police of racism following the death of a young Roma man after a car chase in the Perama area of Piraeus.
Officers used “disproportionate armed violence” when they fatally shot 18-year-old Nikos Sampanis last month, the Hellenic League of Human Rights (ElEDA) charged.
The organization also accused police of “possible racist motives” based on Sampanis’ ethnicity.
Last June, a Greek citizen filed a lawsuit against the police anti-terrorism unit, claiming that he had been tortured. Aris Papazacharioudakis released photographs and medical reports to the public following the arrest to call out the claim of police brutality.
In March 2021, Greek police were assigned bodycams as a result of an earlier police brutality incident recorded on video by a citizen.
The demonstration in the Athens suburb had drawn protestors from a wide swath of the public, who were angry over the earlier, seemingly unprovoked, beating of the man by police.