New N17 suspect held

Police were last night questioning a 40-year-old bank employee on suspicion of his being a member of the November 17 terrorist organization. If he is charged, Anestis Papanastasiou will be the 19th suspect of the gang. Another 17 are in Korydallos Prison and another is out on bail, awaiting the beginning of their trial on March 3. Papanastasiou, a resident of Thessaloniki who is married and whose first child was born two weeks ago, denied that he was a member of the gang and was not cooperating with the authorities, sources said. He is a cousin of another suspect, Nikos Papanastasiou, 50, whom other members have named as being a founding member of November 17. The gang claimed the deaths of 23 people from December 1975 to June 2000. Police made their first arrests last July. The most recent was that of veteran union leader Yiannis Serifis, who was jailed in October and released on bail on New Year’s Eve. It was not clear whether the younger Papanastasiou would stand trial with the other 18 if charged, as they have already been sent to trial. Papanastasiou was identified following the laboratory investigation into items found in November 17’s two hideouts in Athens. He is not believed to have been a hit man but police suspect that he played a prominent supportive role. Sources said that police found a detailed map and notes of an army camp at Strymoniko near Serres, where Papanastasiou had served as a conscript in 1995. His handwriting and fingerprints were allegedly found on the papers. A second handwritten note by him concerned principles of urban guerrilla warfare and a third concerned the construction of explosives. The notes were dated 1993-1997. When Nikos Papanastasiou was arrested on July 26, police found a note in his house which turned out to be in the same handwriting as the three documents in the Patmou Street hideout. Officers found that Papanastasiou’s cousin had served at the army camp shown in the map (which did not name it), checked his fingerprints and matched them to those on the documents. Papanastasiou, who works in the loans department at an HSBC branch in central Thessaloniki, was detained as he left his apartment for work yesterday morning. He was flown to Athens for questioning at the anti-terrorism squad’s headquarters in the afternoon.

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