N17 was founded in 1973

The charges against November 17 terrorist suspects arrested last year concern alleged criminal acts that cannot be classified as political crimes, according to the bill of indictment that summoned 18 suspects to stand trial. The decision by the Council of Appeals Court Judges, issued on December 30 but only made fully public yesterday, thus confirms that the trial – probably in early March – will be conducted in a three-judge criminal court and not before a jury as demanded by several suspects. According to the bill of indictment, which generally reflected a report tabled a month ago by Kyriakos Karoutsos, the appeals court prosecutor who headed the N17 investigation, the left-wing group was formed in 1973, two years before its first attack, the December 23, 1975 assassination of Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens. «The founding members were suspects Alexandros Yotopoulos, Nikos Papanastasiou, Yiannis Serifis, Pavlos Serifis and a woman whose true identity is unknown, who used the alias ‘Anna’,» the council said. «[Yotopoulos] had a leading role, and continued to do so until the group was caught.» The council also noted that another unidentified woman may have been part of the group. This emerged from a witness’s testimony on the June 2000 assassination of British military attache Stephen Saunders – the group’s last hit – as well as from the discovery of a woman’s hair in a Pangrati safehouse that did not belong to the only female suspect, Angeliki Sotiropoulou. Yesterday, Sotiropoulou agreed to end a 22-day hunger strike held for better detention conditions following a meeting with Korydallos Prison officials, who promised that the lot of all 17 detained suspects would soon improve.

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