Police launched a nationwide manhunt on Tuesday after a convicted November 17 member Christodoulos Xeros failed to report in as part of his furlough obligations, prompting authorities to herald a review of the rights of prison inmates serving time for terrorism and other serious crimes.
Xeros was granted a nine-day furlough on January 1 but failed to report to police on Tuesday after presenting himself to the authorities regularly on the previous days, prompting the alert. The 55-year-old has been serving multiple life terms at Korydallos Prison in Athens.
Xeros’s lawyer Frangiskos Ragousis interpreted his client’s disappearance as “a political escape.” “It is an act in line with his revolutionary action,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said authorities would re-examine laws for issuing furloughs to inmates serving time for terrorism and other serious crimes and heralded the creation of a new high-security prison for dangerous criminals “within 100 days.” In a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias later, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said domestic terrorism was “a significant danger for the country.”
Police are believed to be investigating possible links between Xeros and other groups amid fears of a resurgence in domestic terrorism.
In an Internet statement, jailed members of Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, another guerrilla group, expressed solidarity with Xeros and declared that “the time to attack has come."
The authorities have intensified efforts to crack down on terrorism following an attack last week on the Athens residence of German Ambassador Wolfgang Dold. Police are examining evidence from the scene of the attack amid speculation of the possible involvement of Nikos Maziotis, the convicted leader of another guerrilla group, Revolutionary Struggle, who has been at large since summer 2012 after failing to respect the terms of his furlough.
In a related development on Tuesday police transferred another N17 convict, Xeros’s brother Savvas, from Korydallos Prison to a hospital in Larissa, central Greece, following the latter’s petition to undergo treatment for multiple sclerosis.