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Aggrieved shooter kills three at European Navigation offices

Perpetrator, 76, targeted owners and top management of tanker firm before turning gun on himself

Attack by disgruntled employee at offices of Karnessis family shipping company European Navigation shocks maritime community

GREECE’s shipping community is in shock after a deadly shooting that took place at a prominent shipping office in the south of Athens on Monday morning.

Eyewitnesses said that an elderly former employee armed with two guns made his way into the building of Karnessis family shipping companies European Navigation and European Product Carriers in the suburb of Glyfada and shot dead three people before turning a shotgun on himself.

The shooter is said to have deliberately targeted senior management at the companies including the two sisters of group founder Spyros Karnessis, who was not at the office.

Other members of staff were allowed to flee, while at least two women hid in a bathroom.

Those killed included Maria Karnessis, 76, and longtime company chief executive Antonis Vlassakis, 79, who was married to their sister Despoina.

According to one source, 78-year-old Despoina Karnessis was also on the premises but managed to evade the gunman.

The killer’s third victim was named as Elias Koukoularis, who is understood to have confronted the gunman and tried to persuade him to give up his weapons.

After police entered the premises, the shooter was himself discovered dead in the building’s basement.

He has been identified as a 76-year-old Egyptian national who was employed for the past 36 years as a caretaker at one of the Karnessis residences, but he had recently been dismissed.

Many shipping company offices are located in Glyfada, on the southern Athens Riviera, and in adjacent suburbs.

Insiders spoke of a business community that, with some exceptions, is largely easy-going and buildings that in many cases have little security, although some predict that the shooting may herald a shake-up in culture.

“We are all in shock. Something like this has never happened before,” said one senior manager at a major shipping group located not far from European Navigation.

“I think you are going to see things change because of this,” he told Lloyd’s List. “It’s a lesson and already people are talking about tightening security and secondly clarifying the status of many people who work for them.

“There are many cases of people who are unofficially employed or who are helping on the fringes, sometimes for many years, and the situation is ripe for misunderstandings and anger.

“It seems that in this case the employee expected that at the end of his career he would be treated one way but the employer looked at it differently. It’s happening all the time, but in this case it had tragic results.”

In recent times, the Karnessis family had been at loggerheads and Spyros Karnessis was being sued by his sisters for a large chunk of the company’s assets.

European Navigation owns and operates a fleet of 12 tankers, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

Alongside the company’s product and chemical tankers, the company’s website also lists two suezmax shuttle tankers.

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