NEWS

Focus on terrorists, extortionists

The arrest of suspected members of the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), May 1 and Revolutionary Cells could come as early as midweek following painstaking investigations, sources said. Police are said to have identified several leading members of ELA, a group which is believed to have numbered about 80 members and some 200 support personnel between 1975 and 1995. These include the chief operatives known as «Philippe,» «Andrew» and «George» by the East German secret police, the Stasi, who kept records of contacts between Greeks and international terrorist Ilitch Ramirez Sanchez (Carlos the Jackal). «George» is said to be the current mayor of a Dodecanese island. Police are also said to know the identity of a woman who was involved in writing ELA proclamations. Although the core of the November 17 gang was arrested last summer, the police did not move against the other gangs, trying to make watertight cases before moving in. Previous leaks that they were ready to act were not confirmed. A separate investigation, into allegations that prominent industrialists had been blackmailed into handing over large amounts to third parties to avoid being killed by terrorists, will continue for a second week, with some of the most prominent industrialists in Greece testifying. Over the weekend it emerged that two of Greece’s richest women – Marianna Latsis, the daughter of tycoon Yiannis Latsis, and Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, wife of industrialist Theodoros Angelopoulos – met while on holiday in Corfu last summer and discussed the fact that members of both their families had been approached by extortionists and decided to take action. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who heads the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, and her husband, Theodoros, visited Prime Minister Costas Simitis shortly after the first arrests of suspected N17 terrorists and gave him an extract from the diary of the industrialist’s uncle, Dimitris, written a year before he was killed by N17 in 1986. The excerpt said that extreme right-wing publisher Grigoris Michalopoulos had approached him and told him that he had intervened with N17, an extreme left-wing group, and erased his name from its hit list. Michalopoulos denies this. Reports said Ms Latsis had told Angelopoulos-Daskalaki that members of her family also had been victims of extortion attempts. Both families sent material to the prosecutor in charge of terrorism investigations. But when news broke earlier this month that Dimitris Angelopoulos’s family had given his note to the prime minister, the case suddenly took on great publicity and prompted another prosecutor to look into the case from the extortion angle. Prosecutor Yiannis Diotis, who heads the anti-terrorism probe, last week gave his material on the case to the colleague handling the extortion case. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Ms Latsis are expected to testify this week, perhaps as early as today. Theodoros Angelopoulos, who testified last week and is said to have named several people who allegedly tried to extort money from members of his family, met with the prime minister at the latter’s office again on Saturday. He made no comment as he left.