Greek crime reporter’s murder – do the authorities have something to hide?

Two years after Greek crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz’s murder, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Greek authorities to ask Europol to help with the investigation, which has ground to a complete halt. The European criminal police agency could not only provide technical assistance but also ensure that the investigation is independent, RSF says.

Despite promises that the investigation would be “accelerated” and would be an “absolute priority,” the Greek authorities have yet to arrest anyone in connection with the murder of Giorgos Karaivaz, who was gunned down outside his Athens home on 9 April 2021 in what had all the hallmarks of a contract killing.

Five months after his murder, the police had lists of suspects, statements, security camera footage and details of phone calls. But since then, the authorities have revealed no information indicating any significant progress in the investigation.

An almost total absence of transparency now surrounds the investigation. In October 2021, the authorities said that “under Greek relevant legal framework (...) preliminary investigation is confidential.” But the recommendation on the safety of journalists that the Europe Commission adopted in September 2021 requires the “transparency” of “investigations and prosecutions of crimes against journalists.” 

At no point is there any reference to Karaivaz’s murder in the Greek government’s report on its compliance with the European recommendation, which was drafted in March and which RSF has seen.

"Do the Greek authorities have something to hide about the murder of a reporter who specialised in police corruption? It is unusual in Europe to see an investigation of this kind make so little progress. If Greece really wants to support European initiatives in defence of press freedom, it should bring Europol into the investigation immediately and fully, so that the European criminal police agency can provide its technical expertise and ensure that it is conducted in an independent manner.


Pavol Szalai
Head of RSF’s EU and Balkans desk

Following an appeal by RSF in 2022, a European parliamentary delegation visited Greece last month and, on finding no “visible progress in the police investigation” into Karaivaz’s murder, urged the Greek authorities to seek Europol assistance “without further delay.”

Europol, which can take action only with the agreement of a nation’s authorities, was invited by Malta and Slovakia to assist the investigations into Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder in 2017 and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak’s murder in 2018. As a result, within approximately two years after their deaths, the presumed instigator of Caruana Galizia’s murder had been arrested and the person accused of ordering Kuciak’s murder had been tried.

Pavla Holcova, a Czech investigative journalist who worked with Kuciak, told RSF that the Slovak police investigators realised that, in Europol, “they have not only partners in the investigation but also someone to cover their backs” in the event of strong political pressure to block the investigative efforts or to conceal or “misplace” evidence.

Like Kuciak and Caruana Galizia, Karaivaz reported – for his blog and for Star TV – on the links between the state and organised crime, including corruption within the Greek police. His claims, which he had threatened to describe in detail to the courts prior to his murder, have been confirmed by several revelations in the past few months.

A confidential police report containing evidence of connections between certain police officers (some of them high-ranking), politicians and organised crime networks was leaked to the media in February.

A few weeks later, several Greek investigative journalists reported that, in April 2022, Brigadier-General Dimitris Davalos, a police officer suspected of cooperating with organised crime, was appointed police security director, one of the most important posts for the fight against organised crime. They also reported that, a few days after this promotion, Davalos fired the heads of the homicide and extorsion departments and asked to be informed directly about progress in investigations into the “Greek mafia,” in violation of internal police regulations.

Greece is ranked 108th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

88/ 180
Score : 57.15
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