The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an appeal filed by its top prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou against the rejection of a furlough request for convicted November 17 terrorist Dimitris Koufodinas, paving the way for the likely approval of the request.
A few hours later, Koufodinas ended a hunger strike he started on May 2 to protest the refusal of his request.
The ruling, which was issued by the court’s criminal section, now puts the ball in the court of a judicial council in Volos, central Greece. Previous judicial councils have twice rejected Koufodinas’ request for a seventh furlough, ruling that he has not expressed remorse for his crimes. A new judicial council – with different judges – is to convene in the coming days and review the case again.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court noted that Koufodinas had displayed good behavior during the six previous furloughs he has been granted over the past two years. However, it takes issue with his stroll through Athens on his last furlough in January, during which he was photographed close to spots where N17 victims were murdered, which the court said displayed “a lack of respect for the memory of the victims.”
In spite of this reservation, it is widely thought that the court’s ruling will pave the way for both the approval of another furlough for Koufodinas and more lenient treatment of other convicts also serving multiple life sentences, as the court deemed that they should enjoy the same rights as other inmates.
Reacting to the development, conservative New Democracy pledged to revoke provisions showing leniency to terrorists if it comes to power. ND “commits to immediately changing the law for furloughs that are given today, even to unrepentant murderers,” the party said in a statement.
Koufodinas is serving 11 life sentences for his role as the main hitman in the now defunct N17. His transfer to an agricultural jail near Volos from Attica’s high-security Korydallos Prison last summer and the approval of six furloughs in less than two years have prompted protests by relatives of N17’s victims.
He launched a hunger strike on May 2 after the rejection of his appeal for a seventh furlough and has pledged to continue his protest “to the end” unless his request is granted. Self-styled anarchists have vandalized political offices, ATMs, the US ambassador’s residence and Parliament in a bid to express solidarity with the hunger-striking hitman.
Dimitriou’s intervention came a few hours after Koufodinas was put into intensive care last Friday. It has raised questions, not least because she had assumed a different stance when the furlough was granted to Koufodinas, questioning the decision of that judicial council.