The alarm in the women’s wing of Athens’s high-security Korydallos Prison had been out of order for more than a year when a 43-year-old Serbian woman believed to be part of the notorious Pink Panther band of jewel thieves escaped from the institution last week, according to the testimonies of two female prison guards who had been on duty at the time.
The employees, aged 45 and 35, were both detained on Thursday after Olivera Cirkovic escaped from Korydallos with the help of an accomplice who entered the prison on the pretext of delivering paint.
In her testimony, the 45-year-old guard said she and her younger colleague “did everything humanly possible to locate the escaped prisoner and her accomplice, in view of the fact that the alarm has not worked for ages.” The 35-year-old said her initial response had been to sound the alarm. “I run to hit the alarm and realized, in my panic, that it wasn’t working, that it has been out of order for a long time,” she said.
The elder guard was suspended from her post on the orders of Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis after she was charged with facilitating the escape despite having been struck by the detainee’s accomplice. She described the blow by the young man as “unbelievably violent,” noting that she passed out immediately after being hit on the head. The 35-year-old prison employee was granted conditional release on Monday. In her deposition, she described hearing a thump and then seeing her 45-year-old superior on the ground and the door wide open.
According to sources, the Serbian detainee, her accomplice and a third man fled on a motorcycle and a scooter after their breakout.
Since the beginning of July, the 43-year-old jewel thief reportedly had been busy painting the interior of the woman’s wing of the prison. Last Thursday it is alleged she claimed that her paint had finished and told prison staff she had arranged for new supplies to be delivered, opening the way for her accomplice to enter the prison.
Circovic, a former basketball player, is believed to be part of the so-called Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves who have carried out robberies in Britain, Dubai, Japan and Switzerland.