Police probe extortion, terror racket

The theory that the shadowy figures who lurked at the left- and right-wing extremes of Greek extra-parliamentary life cooperated through the activities of the November 17 terrorist gang could take concrete form in the next few days. The results of a police investigation that began last summer are expected to be sent to the prosecutor’s office in the next few days so that a judicial probe can be conducted. At the heart of the matter is the allegation that a well-known journalist and publisher who belongs to the extreme right blackmailed prominent businessmen into giving him large amounts of money. The man would reportedly approach the businessmen and warn them that he had seen their name on November 17’s hit list and that, in return for money, he could ensure that their name was erased. This man had acknowledged in public that he had been visited several times by November 17’s alleged founder and mastermind, Alexandros Yotopoulos. The police were informed of the alleged blackmail last summer when the family of Dimitris Angelopoulos, a prominent industrialist whom November 17 murdered in 1986, gave them a handwritten note in which he described a visit by the journalist in question, who told him that he had seen Angelopoulos’s name on the gang’s list and that he could remove it if given money. Sources said the industrialist gave the man the money. But he was murdered two years later. The note was given to police shortly after November 17 began to unravel this summer. Officers then contacted other businessmen who told them similar stories of alleged extortion by the journalist-publisher. What is not clear is whether the suspect and November 17 really had been in contact, and whether he had known that Yotopoulos was the leader of the extreme left-wing gang when he met with him. It is quite possible that the journalist-publisher may have simply exploited the fear that November 17 provoked among likely targets in order to extort money from them.

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