Two police officers accused of running a protection racket in the southern suburbs were remanded in custody on Tuesday, following their arrest last week in the wake of a secret Internal Affairs investigation.
The two officers had earlier appeared before an examining magistrate to answer to charges of extortion, forming a criminal organisation and accepting bribes. A third suspect, the wife of one of the two accused, also appeared before the magistrate on charges but was afterwards released on provision that she reported regularly to a local police station.
Also due to testify before the magistrate are 12 business owners that face charges of offering bribes at the request of the corrupt officers, while a third policeman of lower rank is accused as an accomplice but was not arrested because the three-day limit for his arrest 'in the act' had expired.
The case was uncovered after a the owner of a local business reported that the police officers in question were demanding sums ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 euros in order to not carry out inspections and not write out tickets for health and safety violations for venues subject to the hygiene code, such as bars, clubs and restaurants along the coast.
They were caught in the act last Wednesday when one of the pair was arrested while carrying a sum in marked notes that he had just received as a bribe. An investigation showed that the two officers - one of which was serving as station chief in a southern suburbs police station - had been engaged in the specific activities since May 2010.