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Vodafone manager Tsalikidis death in 2005 “was murder, not suicide” prosecutor finds

Thirteen years after the death of  Vodafone executive Kostas Tsalikidis, prosecutor has found that he was a victim of “a criminal action” rather that he had committed suicide. Justice has pressed homicide charges against one or more unknown persons  39-year-old Tsalikidis was found hanging in his apartment in March 9, 2005, just days after a wiretapping scandal shook the political system and the public opinion of Greece.

Tsalikidis, an engineer, was working as Vodafone’s Network Planning Manager. His family insisted his death was in connection with the wiretapping scandal.

Tsalikidis had left no suicide note behind. His family insisted that their son had no reason to take his own life and he was engaged to be married.

Two earlier investigations concluded that he had committed suicide.

However, his family turned to the European Court of Human Rights. In November 2017, the ECHR found that Greece had failed to fully investigate his death and awarded his family a compensation.

After the court ruling, a prosecutor in Athens was ordered to reopen the investigation in November of the same year.

The wiretapping scandal of 2004-2005, also referred to as Greek Watergate, involved the illegal tapping of more than 100 mobile phones on the Vodafone Greece network belonging mostly to members of the Greek government and top-ranking civil servants. The taps began sometime near the beginning of August 2004 and were removed in March 2005 without discovering the identity of the perpetrators.

The phone were trapped by a foreign interception software system illegally inserted into Vodafones systems.

  • Among the phones that were tapped was that of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and of members of his family, the Mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyannis, most phones of the top officers at the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for Public Order, members of the ruling party New Democracy, ranking members of the opposition party (PASOK), the Hellenic Navy General Staff, the previous Minister of Defense and one phone of a locally hired Greek American employee of the American Embassy. Phones of Athens-based Arab businessmen were also tapped.

Timeline of events according to the press

March 4, 2005 Vodafone discovers (as per company statements) foreign “interception” software in its network. Vodafone Greece doesn’t formally take the position that Ericsson installed before the Olympic games a “legal interception” software, which was subsequently locked and shut down.

March 5, 2005 Vodafone decides to remove the foreign interception software without finding the culprits of the wire tapping. Thus, according to many experts the culprits can no longer be traced. Mr. Koronias, CEO of Vodafone Greece, claimed before the Parliamentary Committee on Transparency that no one had asked him to reactivate the illegal software in order to trace the phones that intercepted the conversations in question.

The company claims that they have back up copies of the deleted data and that they committed no illegal act within the boundaries of the Act for the Protection of the Privacy of Telecommunications.

March 9, 2005 Costantinos Tsalikidis, Network Planning Supervisor for Vodafone and top level manager for the company, is found hanged in his apartment. He never left a (suicide) note nor any indication that he was suffering from any personal problems. No autopsy was conducted in situ, and the forensic report was inconclusive.

The circumstances around the death of Tsalikidis, were pronounced a year later as questionable and directly connected to his professional position at Vodafone, and the Athens Prosecutor re-opened the case. more

In February 2006, the issue  was deemed one of top national security and top secret by the government.

While the investigation on the wire tapping continued, in February 2015, the prosecutor in Athens issued an arrest warrant against a former employee at the US Enbassy in Athens, an alleged CIA agent of Greek-American origin.

Russian spies had revealed in 2012, that there was a plot to assassinate PM Kostas Karamanlis and destabilize the country in 2008.

Whether the culprits can be traced after so many years is questionable. However, the prosecutor’s findings are justice for Kostas Tsalikidis and his family.

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