Europol will launch a public ‘competition’ on Thursday morning to help them catch Europe’s most-wanted fugitives, among them one wanted by Cypriot authorities, by spreading their profiles across social media.
The idea is that increasing the fugitives’ visibility will increase their chances of capture.
Taking its cue from the World Cup, Europol has dubbed its competition ‘Europe’s Most-Wanted Cup’.
The aim of the game is for participants to collect the cards of all 25 most-wanted fugitives to complete Europe’s Most Wanted Criminals team. Cards are unlocked by entering codes found on social media.
There are nine codes in total and each code will reveal two or three players. Codes will be randomly distributed via the social media profiles of European law enforcement agencies and Europol. Entering the codes on the website reveals the criminals on the cards.
Each participant will be considered as having finished the game only when they have found all the players. They will then be able to download and share their completed team.
The game starts on Thursday morning at 9 am Cyprus time, when the first code will be given for the most wanted in Cyprus, Finland and Graz, France.
Police in Cyprus would not reveal on Wednesday which fugitive wanted by Cypriot authorities would appear in the competition.
A search of Europol’s website yields two possible results: Albanian national Aleks Burelli and Georgian national Haris Saridis.
Burelli, 50, is believed to be one of the two hitmen who shot and killed businessman Phanos Kalopsidiotis , a police officer and his wife, while seriously injuring another police officer as they ate together in an Ayia Napa restaurant in June 2016. In the exchange of gunshots Burelli’s accomplice was shot and killed on the spot. Burelli fled the scene by a car which was later found burning. According to Europol, the suspect also conspired to commit other murders in Cyprus as part of the same crime ring that organised the murder at Ayia Napa.
Saridis,34, is suspected to be involved in a number of armed robberies in banks in Cyprus. He escaped twice – in January and November of 2011 – while being under arrest for an armed robbery at a branch of the Bank of Cyprus. He was also linked to another armed robbery last March at the Ayios Athanasios branch of the Co-op bank in Limassol.
Twenty-five winners will be drawn in a raffle “by an innocent hand” on July 20. The prize for all winners is a Europol goody bag.
Europol said that it would like “to show criminals the red card”.
“Don’t let them win! It is no honour to play in this league. These criminals are wanted for very serious offences such as murder, armed robbery, fraud or drug trafficking.”
By completing the team, participants are familiarising themselves with the faces and the crimes of some of Europe’s most dangerous criminals on the run, it said.
“When you share your results on social media, you make these fugitives even more visible to your friends and followers. The more people see these criminals, the higher the chance that one of you will be able to provide us with that crucial tip to locate and ultimately arrest a dangerous criminal.”
The rest of the codes will be given by the social media of the Cyprus police and Europol on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
To be eligible for the raffle, participants must register