Authorities in Athens, Georgia, have charged Marios Michaelides, a Greek national already indicted on a murder charge in Virginia, in the 1975 death of his wife, Alexandra, the daughter of David K. E. Bruce, the late diplomat.
Athens Public Prosecutor Alexander Metaxas has ordered Michaelides to appear before a magistrate today on charges of willful manslaughter, bigamy and vagrancy.
Metaxas told a reporter that if Michaelides failed to appear at the hearing, the prosecutor's office would order his arrest.
Greek law provides for prosecuting Greek citizens for certain offenses with which they are charged in foreign countries.
Edwin B. Baker, the Virginia commonwealth's attorney for Charlotte County, confirmed Monday that Michaelides had been indicted Sept. 8 by a county grand jury on a murder charge in the 1975 death of Alexandra Bruce Michaelides, 29, whose death had at first been ruled a suicide.
Michaelides, a fruit exporter in Athens reportedly living with his first wife, whom he allegedly never divorced, has also been indicted by the Charlotte County grand jury on charges of bigamy and embezzlement.
Mrs. Michaeli was shot once in the right side of the head on Nov. 7, 1975, at the Bruce family's Southside Virginia estate, Staunton Hill Farm, in Brookneal. She died 36 hours later in Lynchburg General Hospital. A week later the death was ruled a suicide following an autopsy.
Michaelides yesterday told a reporter in Athens that he was innocent.
"My wife committed suicide, and this is the reason the Americans never stopped me when I left," he said.
The Virginia indictments resulted from the findings of a private detective hired by Mrs. Michaelides' late father, after her death.
Bruce, former U.S. ambassador to France, Britain, and NATO and U.S. representative in Peking, died last December at 79.
Family members could not be reached for comment yesterday, but if was reported by family friends shortly after Mrs. Michaelides' death that her parents dislike Michaelides, and that their dislike had strained relations with their daughter.
Friends told a reporter shortly after her death that Mrs. Michaelides, who was known as "Sasha," had become cold and defiant toward them in the months before she died. State police reported at the time that Michaelides had told investigators his wife had been despondent for several weeks.
It was reported early yesterday that the State Department would seek to extradite Michaelides for trial on the Virginia charges.
Under provisions of the extradition treaty between the United States and Greece, neither country is bound to deliver its citizens to the other if the defendant's citizenship was obtained before a crime allegedly occurred.
However, under the Greek penal code, a Greek national charged in a foreign country with a crime that is punishable in Greece. The crimes include murder, bigamy, forgery, burglary and robbery.
Under Greek law, today's hearing constitutes the beginning of a magisterial investigation. Defendants do not normally appear at the opening hearings.
The prosecutor's warning that Michaelides must appear at the hearing, however, indicated the seriousness with which the government in Athens views the incident, according to a diplomat here who asked not to be identified.
The diplomat also explained that the manslaughter charged could be raised to murder by the magistrate. There was some confusion among State Department officials, however, over how the treaties and laws apply to the Michaelides case. And there was no explanation why the embezzlement charge, which involved the disappearance from the Bruce estate of 32 rare books valued at $60,000, was not included in the Athens list.
Until the charges in Athens were announced, it was uncertain what had become of Michaelides, who has remained a little-known figure even among friends of the Bruce family.
Michaelides reportedly met the Bruce daughter while the two were living in London in 1975.
A 1984 debutante, she was a graduate of St. Timothy's School in Baltimore, a prestigious girls' school. She graduated with highest honors from Radcliffe College in 1969 with a degree in fine arts.