Probe into 1992 brush with Nov17

A Thessaloniki bank employee arrested this month for participation in the November 17 terrorist group should be tried with another 18 suspects on March 3, a senior prosecutor recommended yesterday. But in his report to the Council of Appeals Court Judges, appeals court prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos said Anestis Papanastasiou, 41, could be released on bail of 3,000 euros pending trial on the general charge of participation in the left-wing group. If the council agrees, Papanastasiou will be forbidden from leaving Greece before the trial, and will be ordered to show up twice a month at his local police station. The terms are considerably more lenient than those imposed on veteran unionist Yiannis Serifis, 64, who was released on New Year’s Eve after paying 30,000 euros in bail. Serifis is accused of membership and possession of arms and explosives – referring to the weapons found in two Athens N17 safehouses. Another 17 suspects, including one woman, remain in prison. Meanwhile, prosecutors are now focusing on one of the more curious episodes in the group’s 27-year history, the botched police operation 10 years ago in central Athens that came very close to capturing a handful of N17 terrorists following a tip-off. A woman had phoned the chief of police in March 1992 to warn of an impending hit on a member of the judiciary on Louizis Riancourt Street, in Ambelokipi. But the terrorists escaped, and the police heard no more of their informant – whom sources close to the investigation believe was a close companion of Alexandros Yotopoulos motivated by jealousy after the alleged N17 mastermind cheated on her. Some time later, another woman claimed to have provided the first tip and offered further information, which proved useless. Nevertheless, she received a substantial reward, and it is suspected that the whole business was set up by police or secret service officers who pocketed the money. Yesterday, former Public Order Minister Theodoros Anagnostopoulos testified concerning the affair.

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