NEWS

ELA architect behind bars, makes partial confession

A 64-year-old architect, whom police suspect of having been the top decision-maker of the Revolutionary Popular Struggle terrorist group, was arrested in his home in one of the capital’s most upmarket areas yesterday. He was the fourth suspected ELA member to be taken into custody since a crackdown, which police leaks for the past six months had claimed to be imminent, materialized last weekend. Police spokesman Lefteris Economou confirmed that Christos Tsigaridas was accused of ELA membership. He was officially charged late yesterday, and is understood to have assumed full responsibility for the group’s attacks up to 1990. A police source told Kathimerini that Tsigaridas – who was arrested shortly after 6 a.m. in his home at 12 Kyknou Street in Palaio Psychico – is believed to have taken over control of the group after the death of its alleged founder, Christos Kassimis, during an Athens shootout with police officers in 1977. Civil engineer Constantinos Agapiou, 56, who was arrested in Kolonaki on Sunday morning, is thought to have been the second most senior member in ELA’s leadership, known as the Revolutionary Council. «Should we wish to arrest someone of higher rank in the ELA leadership, we would have to resurrect Christos Kassimis,» the source said. The other two suspects are Kimolos Mayor Angeletos Kanas, a 52-year-old electrician who was snatched at midnight on Saturday from the media circus accompanying him on an Athens urban train, and Irini Athanassaki, a 48-year-old tourist agency employee taken into custody early on Sunday. All three are to testify today before the examining magistrate who handled the November 17 investigation. They are charged with participation in ELA – which they all deny – but have not been officially tied to specific attacks. ELA killed two people and set off over 100 bombs during a 20-year campaign from 1975 to 1995, after which it appears to have unofficially disbanded. Tsigaridas allegedly used the code name «Andrew,» while Agapiou was «Philippe,» Kanas was «George» and Athanassaki «Myrto.» «The soul of the group, the core of leaders and ideological instructors has been uncovered, with the exception of those who were killed or formed splinter groups,» the police source said, adding that another two people are known to have been members of the Revolutionary Council. So far, the evidence against them is not enough to act upon. Although none of Tsigaridas’s fingerprints have been found on material associated with ELA, witnesses’ testimonies are believed to have damned him. Some of the most valuable evidence was apparently provided by Kanas’s estranged first wife, Sophia Kyriakidou, who reportedly claimed to have caught her husband making bombs in a central Athens hideout.