War of words over hunger striker continues


Amid acrimonious exchanges with leftist opposition SYRIZA over the hunger strike by Dimitris Koufodinas, government spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni said on Monday it was obvious that the jailed terrorist “who has been convicted for 11 murders “is asking for privileged treatment outside the framework of the law.”

Peloni made her remarks as the government said it will not intervene to grant Koufodinas a transfer from a prison in central Greece to Korydallos penitentiary in Athens. The 63-year-old is being treated in intensive care as he continues his hunger strike into an eighth week, sparking public protests and arson attacks.

However, Peloni said that “he is trying to blackmail us with the hunger strike,” noting that he never appealed to the court for his request, even though he has the right to do so. 

“He chose to risk his life. Democracy is neither vindictive nor can it be blackmailed. The state is obliged to apply the law without discrimination. That is what it will do,” she said. 

The Koufodinas camp insists it has pursued the legal avenues but to no avail, while SYRIZA spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said the best approach would be “the flexibility that has been shown many times in the past” as this would “show the superiority of democracy over the value systems defended by Mr Koufodinas.”

SYRIZA also took issue with Peloni’s comments that it has sided with Koufodinas, disregarding the vast majority of people, and that its leader Alexis Tsipras is a self-appointed advocate “asking the government to violate the rule of law and change its attitude.” “And this for a detainee who has not shown an ounce of remorse for his crimes,” she added. SYRIZA MP Nassos Iliopoulos asked if Peloni also considers a long list of politicians, judicial officials, lawyers and rights activists who want the law be observed as “self-appointed advocates.”