Fight over N17 trial coverage

With just five days left to go until one of the most important trials in Greece’s postwar history, lawyers, left-wing parties and the country’s main journalists’ union joined yesterday in criticizing the government’s plans for media coverage of the November 17 terrorist trial. Nineteen suspected members of the extreme left-wing group go on trial in Athens’s Korydallos Prison on Monday, facing a barrage of charges ranging from murder and attempted murder to robbing banks and military installations – including the War Museum in central Athens. Under newly passed legislation, there will be no live TV or radio coverage of the proceedings – in a refurbished prison courtroom where the leaders of the 1967-74 military dictatorship were tried 28 years ago – unless all legal parties involved in the trial allow it. «It is our intention to afford full publicity to the court proceedings, but without turning the trial into a TV show,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said yesterday. He added that although journalists will probably not be allowed to use tape recorders in the courtroom – or the adjacent press center where the trial will be broadcast on closed-circuit TV – transcripts of the proceedings will be provided. Mobile phones will be jammed to prevent surreptitious live broadcasts. The Athens Journalists’ Union said it had made «strong representations to the government,» as «the conditions under which the trial is to be covered do not ensure effective publicity for such an important event.» The Athens Bar Association, Synaspismos Left Coalition and the Communist Party also demanded heavier media coverage, while lawyers criticized the courtroom seating arrangements under which bulletproof glass will separate the defendants from their counsels.