Albanian contract killer could have killed Sydney gangster in Athens
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Albanian contract killer could have killed Sydney gangster in Athens

Athens: John Macris may have been killed by an Albanian contract killer as part of an escalating turf-war within the Greek mafia that has already resulted in six other murders in the capital since the start of the year.

A funeral was held for Macris, a former Sydney underworld figure, on Sunday night at the Saint Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church where he had worshipped.

Macris security business was hastily closed down.

Macris security business was hastily closed down. Credit:Latika Bourke.

The 46-year-old's body will be flown to Australia for burial despite him having moved to Athens to set up a new life seven years ago. Greek press reported John’s father, 82-year-old Stelios, had returned to Australia for the burial.

Fairfax Media can reveal Greek authorities were aware of Macris' notoriety and time spent in jail in Australia for commercial drug supply when he moved to the country at the start of the decade.

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While he had no criminal record in Greece, authorities are examining if his death is linked to an escalating underworld war between some of the country's major crime gangs.

There have been seven underworld killings carried out in Athens and nearby districts since January and several of those, potentially including Macris', are thought to be linked.

It is the first major outbreak of violence in the country's underworld, which the Greeks call the "World of the Night", in three years.

Criminal groups in the country are known to take advantage of Greece’s plentiful ports and islands and exploit the country's geographical position between Europe and the Middle East to act as a bridge for illicit drugs on their way to the continent.

Contract killings in Greece’s underworld are known to have been previously carried out by hired hitmen from Albania, who use two or three cars or motorbikes to flee Greece immediately after carrying out the hit.

Another possible motive being examined for the 46-year-old's killing is his recent expansion into the security industry. Authorities are examining all of Macris' business dealings to determine if the firm he planned to open, 24/7 Security Services, was a potential front for undeclared earnings.

They are also examining if the security firm was a direct threat to his business rivals.

John Macris was shot dead in Athens.

John Macris was shot dead in Athens.

The morning after he was shot dead, four cars and four motorbikes bearing the company’s motif were removed from outside the business.

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By Friday morning, the company’s signage had been torn down. One security guard who was due to start work at 24/7 Security Services said staff had been told “close everything”.

Officials do not believe Macris’ family would have given the order to hastily remove the vehicles and signage from the business.

Macris had a low profile in Greece and only came to public attention in 2016 when he married glamorous television reality star and model, Ukrainian-born Viktoria Karynda, on the party island of Mykonos.

The ceremony hit the media, but fashion designer Yiannis Togas, who designed Karyda’s dress, said the event was “small” and that he was one of only 60 guests.

Togas said the model would have had no idea that her husband was involved in the criminal world, and that she was in totally in love with him.

Macris was on his way to open his security business when he was killed outside his home in the private hillside residential Troias street at 8.10pm.

Footage taken from surveillance cameras installed outside Macris' home shows the gunman to be about 170 centimetres tall. He was wearing a cap and approached Macris on foot.

CCTV cameras on the Macris house captured images of the man believed to have shot the Australian underworld figure.

CCTV cameras on the Macris house captured images of the man believed to have shot the Australian underworld figure.Credit:Latika Bourke

The gunman fired his first shot at Macris through the passenger side window and then circled the back of the car to unload more bullets. Macris struggled after escaping the vehicle and left blood stains across the footpath.

Rifles, pistols and machine guns have all been used in the recent spate of gangland killings in Greece.

In Macris’ case, police retrieved six nine millimetre bullet casings from the scene. He died after receiving four gunshot wounds to the chest, belly and shoulder blade.

Latika Bourke is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age based in London. She has previously worked for Fairfax Media, the ABC and 2UE in Canberra. Latika won the Walkley Award for Young Australian Journalist of the Year in 2010.