NEWS

Mystery N17 witness talks to judge

The November 17 investigation took a sudden new twist yesterday just two weeks before the trial of 19 suspected members of the terrorist group is due to open in Athens, with a woman reportedly providing investigators with fresh leads into N17’s activities. The woman, whose identity was not revealed, is the only one of the people who have testified so far to be placed in a witness protection program. Sources close to the investigation said that during her two-hour testimony before examining judge Leonidas Zervobeakos, she provided evidence concerning a so-far unknown N17 member who is an ex-policeman, and the son of a policeman. The same sources said the man is now believed to be living in Khartoum, Sudan. That is where the first N17 suspect to be arrested, Athens icon painter Savvas Xeros, had planned to set up an ice plant. The mystery witness, who claimed that she had decided to testify after receiving death threats, also told Zervobeakos she was friends with a woman who had worked for two of N17’s victims – and at one point had had a relationship with alleged N17 mastermind Alexandros Yotopoulos. This woman apparently worked for National Bank of Greece Chairman Michalis Vranopoulos and shipowner Costas Peratikos. The source said the new information was regarded as important, but its veracity would have to be carefully assessed by the authorities. Although with the trial to start on March 3 the file on the 19 N17 suspects has been closed, Zervobeakos has the right to open a new file should significant new evidence emerge. Meanwhile, an Athens prosecutor investigating claims yesterday that publishers and journalists blackmailed leading industrialists and churchmen invoking the N17 hit list as a threat interviewed Vranopoulos’s predecessor at National Bank, as well as the secretary of the extreme right-wing publisher mentioned by certain witnesses as one of the extortionists. Both Dimitrios Yermidis and Eleni Zamaria testified in connection with Vranopoulos’s killing, which both Zamaria and her employer, Grigoris Michalopoulos, had witnessed.