A decision by a judicial council on Thursday to release convicted November 17 hitman Dimitris Koufodinas on a two-day furlough triggered angry reactions from politicians and foreign diplomats.
Koufodinas walked out of Attica’s high-security Korydallos Prison on Thursday afternoon for the first time since he was handed 11 life sentences in 2003.
He was received by friends and relatives. Among the supporters was Giorgos Voutsis-Vogiatzis, the son of SYRIZA MP and Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis and a known member of the anti-establishment scene.
Koufodinas’s lawyer, Ioanna Kourtovik, said her client’s appeal was approved due to good behavior though his “philosophical and ideological beliefs” had not changed.
Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said the decision was in line with the law and that expressing regret was not a prerequisite.
The development triggered reactions from the opposition, including relatives of November 17’s victims, and concerns as another N17 convict, Christodoulos Xeros, had absconded during a furlough in 2014, as had Revolutionary Struggle leader Nikos Maziotis in 2012.
Describing himself as a “shocked citizen,” ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Koufodinas had never expressed remorse and “acts as an ideological mentor for a new generation of terrorists.”
His release amid a spike in lawlessness is “the worst possible timing,” he added.
ND MP Dora Bakoyannis, whose husband, Pavlos Bakoyannis, was killed by N17 in 1989, said it was “inconceivable” Koufodinas should be out and called Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis a “wretched apologist.”
The minister noted that the law according to which Koufodinas was released was amended by ND in 2009. “If you didn’t like it, you could have changed it,” he said.
US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt also reacted. “Our democracies rest on independent judicial institutions, but today’s furlough dishonors the victims’ memory and their families,” he wrote on Twitter.
Britain’s envoy to Greece Kate Smith struck a similar note.
“We respect the independence of the Greek justice system, however we are deeply disappointed over the decision to grant leave to a terrorist murderer and we share the pain that this decision inflicts on the families of the victims,” Smith wrote on Twitter in Greek.