Greek Cops Nab Man in Alleged Crash Message Hoax
THESSALONIKI, Greece – Police in northern Greece (search) on Monday arrested a man who claimed to have received a telephone text message from a passenger on board a Cypriot airliner that crashed north of Athens, killing 121 people.
Police identified the man as Nektarios-Sotirios Voutas (search), 32.
Voutas had called Greek television stations shortly after the Helios Airways (search) flight crashed into a mountainous region north of the capital Sunday, saying his cousin, who he identified as Nikos Petridis, was on board.
He claimed his cousin had sent him a cell-phone text message minutes before the crash saying: "Farewell, cousin, here we're frozen."
The report that the plane was cold was taken as a sign of decompression — one of the possible explanations authorities have given for the crash, which was Greece's deadliest.
But police in Thessaloniki said they had determined he was lying, and there was no Petridis on the Cypriot government's official list of victims.
Voutas, a resident of the northern port city of Thessaloniki who had identified himself to Greek media as Sotiris Voutas, faced charges of disseminating false information and causing a public disturbance, police said. He was scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, they said.