By DEREK GATOPOULOS
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A Greek helicopter pilot was charged Friday with the murder of his British-Greek wife, whose death he had initially claimed was caused by burglars during a brutal invasion of their home on the outskirts of Athens.
Pilot and flight instructor Babis Anagnostopoulos, 33, was arraigned for the May 11 killing of Caroline Crouch, 20, who died of suffocation.
He was led in handcuffs and a bulletproof vest to an Athens court and is due to return next week to give evidence.
In brief remarks to reporters, his lawyer confirmed that he had confessed to the crime, adding that he had expressed remorse for his actions.
Police investigators said analysis of data from a smartwatch worn by the victim had helped reveal inconsistencies in the pilot’s account of events.
The pilot had publicly claimed that armed robbers broke into the couple’s home and tied up and gagged him and his wife in their bedroom as their months-old daughter slept. He had said the men stole cash before escaping.
The account shocked the nation and prompted government officials to announce a 300,000-euro ($365,000) reward for information about the crime.
Their daughter was unharmed, but the family dog was found choked to death on a leash, hanging from a staircase rail, authorities said.
“Everything was staged for the crime scene to look like the scene of a robbery,” Costas Hassiotis, director of the greater Athens homicide division told reporters, adding that the suspect had tied his own hands and those of his dead wife.
He said the examination of mobile devices, a smartwatch with a heart rate monitor used by Crouch, and cameras, had established a timeline that contradicted with the pilot’s testimony.
Hassiotis said forensic experts established the time a memory card had been removed from a security camera, adding to the evidence against the pilot.
Anagnostopoulos was detained after authorities summoned him for questioning Thursday while he was attending a memorial service for Crouch on the Aegean Sea island of Alonissos, where she grew up.
He was flown to Athens by helicopter from the nearby island of Skiathos, and interviewed for more than six hours before police announced that he was a suspect.
In a May 16 post on Instagram, Anagnostopoulos uploaded an undated photograph of the couple on a trip to Portugal for a wedding photoshoot, writing: “Always together. Farewell, my love.”