19th suspect could escape trial

All but one of the 19 November 17 terrorism suspects should be tried for attacks carried out by the far-left group since 1983, while their alleged crimes cannot be regarded as political acts, according to a senior prosecutor’s report. Sources familiar with the report – to be forwarded by December 9 to the council of Appeals Court judges, which will then issue indictments – said only 32-year-old carpenter Avgoustinos Xeros, an Athens priest’s son who was the last N17 suspect to be charged, should not be indicted. The trial is expected to start at the beginning of March. According to the report by Appeals Court prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos, the suspects cannot be charged for 47 crimes committed between the group’s foundation in 1975 and 1983, due to Greece’s 20-year statute of limitations. These include four assassinations and an arms heist from an army camp at Sykourio, central Greece, which furnished N17 with an arsenal of anti-tank missiles. Rejecting arguments by the suspects’ defense lawyers, Karoutsos said N17’s attacks cannot be regarded as political acts, and may, therefore, be tried before a three-judge criminal appeals court. «Terrorist crimes, even if they have political motives, do not cease to be acts of terrorism and should be punished as such,» the report said. «The material element of terrorism comes under common criminal law.» Avgoustinos Xeros’s three brothers – Savvas, Christodoulos and Vassilis – are among the most deeply involved N17 members, the report said, and should be charged with a total of 145 crimes. Alleged hitman Dimitris Koufodinas, nicknamed «poisonhand» by his alleged associates, tops the list of charges with 86. Suspected group mastermind Alexandros Yotopoulos follows with 82, the same as alleged hitman Savvas Xeros.

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