NEWS

Bank worker charged as N17 member

Anestis Papanastasiou, a 41-year-old bank employee, was charged yesterday with being a member of the November 17 terrorist gang. Another 17 alleged members are in prison awaiting trial on March 3 and one is out on bail. Papanastasiou, the 19th suspect, was arrested outside his home in central Thessaloniki on Thursday morning and brought to Athens later. Yesterday, he appeared before Appeals Court prosecutor Constantine Vompiris, who filed the charges before sending him on to investigating judge Leonidas Zervobeakos. The investigator gave Papanastasiou until 1 p.m. on Monday to prepare his testimony. He is being held at the anti-terror squad’s offices. The suspect’s lawyer, Costas Kourkoulos, told reporters that his client denied the charges. «He is a victim of circumstances,» Kourkoulos said. He said Papanastasiou’s political convictions were different to those of N17, which he described as «a militaristic phenomenon» governed by «conservatism and totalitarianism.» The group, espousing extreme left-wing ideology, claimed the murder of 23 people between December 1975 and June 2000. Papanastasiou was arrested after forensics experts identified his handwriting and fingerprints on a detailed map he had drawn of a military camp where he had served as a conscript, and on notes on urban guerrilla warfare and on bomb-making. He is a cousin of Nikos Papanastasiou, 50, who is in Korydallos Prison awaiting trial on charges of being a founding member of N17. The elder Papanastasiou denies involvement with the gang. Kourkoulos said his client had drawn the map while a cadet officer, and that this had later been stolen from his home by someone. The cousin had given him the other notes to read, he said, according to Kourkoulos. Meanwhile, extreme right-wing publisher Grigoris Michalopoulos warned yesterday that he would sue anyone claiming that he was involved in blackmailing businessmen by allegedly promising to get them off N17’s hit list if the money was right. Some reports had named Michalopoulos as the focus of a police probe which is expected to be sent to the judiciary soon.