Europol has found a novel way to mark the festive season: it is releasing an “advent calendar” of its most wanted criminals, publishing a picture a day in the run-up to Christmas.
Advent calendars have been getting ever more glamorous over the recent years as luxury brands seek to cash in on the craze, but the European Union’s law enforcement agency has decided to join the trend with a somewhat grittier offering: a daily roll out of their 24 most wanted fugitives.
“As from 1 December, we will for 23 days in a row publish one fugitive from one member state per day,” Europol spokesman Gerald Hesztera told AFP, adding that the wanted person will be featured on Europol’s social media sites.
“All these criminals are on the run, fleeing from responsibility and punishment,” he said, speaking from Europol’s headquarters in The Hague.
Their crimes range from murder and kidnapping to terrorism and drug trafficking.
The list kicks off on Thursday with Austrian fugitive Tibor Foco, 60, wanted for murdering a prostitute by shooting her in the head in March 1986.
Although he was convicted, and in March 1987 was handed a life sentence, Foco absconded from jail by motorbike in 1995 while on leave to study. A €2,900 reward is being offered by Europol for any information which leads to his arrest.
He is described as 5ft 7in tall, with blue eyes and scars on his arms.
Foco is one of 65 criminals currently at large, featured on Europol’s website showcasing the continent’s most wanted fugitives.
The Austrian is one of only two fugitives who a reward is being offered for. The other is 32-year-old Hime Lufaj, convicted of the armed robbery of a woman and of attempting to stab a police officer to death in 2009.
Since the website’s launch in January, 24 most wanted criminals have been arrested, with nine of the arrests directly linked to media attention and tip-offs from the public.
“Hopefully we can give people a nice present on 24 December, having arrested some of these fugitives,” Hesztera said.