NEWS

Whip, carrot for N17 waverers

At least two of the more faint-hearted November 17 terrorists who had decided to give up the armed struggle were threatened with death or promised expensive gifts in order to stay by senior group members, according to the findings of the judicial investigation into Greece’s most active terrorist organization. A bill of indictment for 18 suspects, issued last week by the Council of Appeals Court Judges, claims that N17 was «a group with a structured hierarchy and internal rules… which forbade members from leaving, even threatening death as a punishment.» November 17 killed 23 people between 1975 and 2000, and was only cracked last year after a bomb went off by accident in the hands of an Athens icon-painter, Savvas Xeros, who later confessed to having been one of the group’s two main assassins. Two of Xeros’s brothers were also indicted, and are believed to have been among the group’s inner core that included alleged chief hitman Dimitris «poison-hand» Koufodinas and suspected N17 head Alexandros Yotopoulos. Other suspects turned out to be lacking in their convictions. Thessaloniki schoolteacher Constantinos Telios told examining magistrates he received death threats whenever he voiced a desire to leave the group or disagreed with planned hits – or he was offered cash. «They offered me huge sums of money, saying I would be able to live without working,» Telios said in his testimony. And Sotiris Kondylis, a former brewery employee and extreme leftwing unionist, said he had wanted to give up but was hounded by N17 members at work and even at his local coffee shop. «Koufodinas offered to buy me a boat for 5 or 6 million drachmas, as he knew I liked fishing, but I refused.» N17 built up a large stash of cash from bank robberies.