No tourist expects to be caught in the crossfire of an anti-terrorist operation and make the news after being visited in hospital by Greek government ministers. For Mr Uranie, who was aged 19 at the time, it was his first overseas holiday without his family and he was looking forward to seeing the sparkling blue beaches of Mykonos, Santorini and Ios emerge through the breathtaking whitewashed buildings.
Tourist Grant Uranie was relaxing in an outdoors cafe in the bustling shopping district of Monastiraki in Athens and waiting for his souvlaki.
The 20-year-old Australian, who was two days into a 15-day Contiki tour of Greece, saw a man who looked like a tourist running and holding something. He was being chased by four armed police, who were yelling. Then the man emerged one metre behind him.
What was supposed to be a leisurely lunch with friends in the European summer of July 2104 turned into a shoot-out between Nikos Maziotis, one of Greece’s most-wanted terrorists, and police in an operation by the counter-terrorism unit.
“We all just dropped to the ground,” Mr Uranie recalled. “I grabbed my chair and stuck it over my head and began to crawl.”
Mr Uranie heard nine shots. One of them struck him in his left ankle. How painfully ironic that being in a country rich with Greek mythology, it was his Achilles tendon. “I went to sprint and my left leg just kind of gave way. I looked and I saw lots of blood. Originally I just thought it was a piece of glass.”
Amid the chaos of hooded police arresting the terrorist and leader of the Revolutionary Struggle guerrilla group who had been on the run for two years, Mr Uranie doesn’t know if he was shot by the terrorist or police.
Men on the run in Greece must read the Tony Mokbel disguise book because Maziotis was also bald and wearing a wig. There was a $1.4 million reward for his capture.
After being shot and going into shock, Mr Uranie waited 45 minutes for an ambulance and received a misdiagnosis from an Athens hospital that his injury was not serious. Upon returning to Australia, he was told he could have lost his leg because the wound was infected, there was a small blood clot and up to 70 per cent of his Achilles tendon was damaged.
After undergoing an operation, Mr Uranie has ongoing rehabilitation to strengthen his ankle and experiences pain and an occasional limp. The marketing and commerce student at Swinburne University is so far $25,000 out of pocket for medical bills, loss of income from part-time jobs and other costs. His football career as a contracted player for Scoresby in the Eastern Football League is in doubt due to the injury and it was a second income for him.
Defteros Lawyers his lawer has sent a letter to the Greek government for “open information” about the incident and compensation for Mr Uranie but there has been no response. The law firm has briefed senior counsel to make a final petition to the Greek government and then commence proceedings in the Greek court system.
The Age contacted the Greek government for comment but there was no response before deadline.
His travel insurance reimbursed the cost of his cancelled Contiki tour and covered the cost of changing his flight. He was not reimbursed for the loss of income from his part-time jobs at Coles and Supercheap Auto while he was recovering.
Exclusions in his insurance policy don’t cover “a loss that arises directly or indirectly from an act or threat of terrorism”.
the Embassy help
During the ordeal, he was grateful for the help he received from the Australian embassy in Athens. After arriving home, Mr Uranie was treated at Casey Hospital, where an ultrasound discovered damage to his Achilles tendon. He then underwent an operation at Dandenong Hospital.
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