Last of the Greek coup leaders dies

TAGS: Obituary

Former Greek coup leader Stylianos Pattakos, one of three military chiefs who brought down democratic rule in 1967, has died at his home in Athens after a stroke, reports said Saturday.

Pattakos, who would have turned 104 years old next month, seized power along with Nikolaos Makarezos and George Papadopoulos in a coup on April 21, 1967, ushering in seven years of repressive military rule.

“Let history judge our actions,” Pattakos once said.

As the juntas interior minister, he famously stripped Melina Mercouri - one of the country's most adored actresses - of her Greek citizenship as she waged an international political campaign against the regime.

Mercouri, who also saw her property confiscated by the junta, retorted: “I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. Mr. Pattakos was born a fascist and he will die a fascist.”

Under the triumvirate led by Papadopoulos, the army brutally repressed the 1973 Athens Polytechnic student rebellion against military rule.

More than 20 people were killed in clashes that day, but it marked the beginning of the end for the junta.

The three coup leaders were ousted in November 1973 by military police chief Dimitrios Ioannidis.

Ioannidis's dictatorship itself fell in mid-1974 after an ill-fated coup in Cyprus supported by the military junta in Athens.

After the return of democratic rule in Greece, the four men were sentenced to death for high treason but their sentences were later converted to life imprisonment.

Makarezos and Pattakos were freed for health reasons and put under house arrest in the 1990s.

Pattakos was born on 8 November, 1912, in the village of Aghia Paraskevi in Crete. Media, citing his relatives, said he would be buried there on Monday or Tuesday.

Pattakos had been the victim of a burglary last Thursday, with three armed robbers breaking into his house in Athens and stealing jewelry and medals while he was asleep.

Ilias Panagiotaros, a lawmaker from neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, expressed his sorrow over Pattakos' death on Twitter, adding: “The general died poor, in a small apartment.”