NEWS

18 Nov17 defendants

All 18 imprisoned November 17 suspects will stand trial for participation in the left-wing terrorist group that killed 23 people between 1975 and 2000, following a decision yesterday by a board of senior judges that also ordered the release, on bail, of a powerful trade unionist who was the last suspect arrested. Although the bill of indictment issued by the Council of Appeals Court Judges was not made public, sources said it generally reflected a report tabled a month ago by the appeals court prosecutor heading the N17 investigation. Kyriakos Karoutsos had recommended that there was evidence to try all but one of the 19 initial suspects, 32-year-old carpenter Avgoustinos Xeros. However, the council decided to free trade unionist Yiannis Serifis, 64, if he puts up bail of 30,000 euros, does not leave the boundaries of Attica and presents himself at his local police station three times a month. This means that Serifis can walk free from Korydallos Prison pending trial – expected to start in early March – as soon as his family, and large group of vocal supporters, manages to raise the bail. His lawyer, Spyros Fytrakis, was jubilant. «We have always argued that, on the one hand, there is insufficient evidence against [Serifis], and, on the other hand, there are serious issues arising from the statute of limitations and the perpetual nature of the charge of participation in a criminal organization,» he told Kathimerini. Judicial authorities have turned down a series of appeals for release from pre-trial detention by other N17 suspects – including the sole female detainee, 40-year-old beekeeper Angeliki Sotiropoulou, who has been on hunger strike since December 11, seeking better detention conditions. All N17 suspects are held in isolation, unlike other inmates, while Sotiropoulou is not even allowed company during her daily exercise in a small prison yard. Yesterday evening, an estimated 150 people held a peaceful motorcycle drive from Pedion tou Areos to Korydallos, demanding better detention conditions for Sotiropoulou. In the morning, Alexios, Bishop of Nikaia, visited the Korydallos women’s section to hand out Christmas presents, but was reportedly banned from seeing the N17 suspects. The bill names Alexandros Yotopoulos as a top N17 member, indicting him on 82 counts. Alleged senior hitman Dimitris Koufodinas faces 86 charges.