Journalists carp at N17 trial

With three days left before the start of one of the most important cases in postwar Greek history, the judge who will preside over the November 17 terrorism trial yesterday visited the Korydallos Prison courtroom and declared himself satisfied with the arrangements. But what, according to sources, met with the approval of appeals court judge Michalis Margaritis yesterday drew howls of outrage from journalists, who complained that the ban on broadcasting from the courtroom or the adjacent press center would severely compromise their work. The Athens Journalists’ Union (ESIEA) said it was even considering boycotting the trial of 19 suspected members of the extreme left-wing group that killed 23 people between 1975 and 2000. ESIEA said it would send a delegation to inspect the courtroom – a refurbished version of the hall where the 1967-74 junta leaders were tried 28 years ago – at 7.30 a.m. on Monday, 90 minutes before the trial is due to begin. The union objects to the fact that TV cameras and radio crews will be banned from the courtroom (in accordance with recent legislation) while mobile phones will be jammed and tape recorders banned. It also wants court reporters to have direct eye contact with the defendants. «The terms governing the media coverage of the trial do not ensure true, full publicity for such a significant event,» ESIEA said, adding that it might instruct its members not to attend the trial. But government spokesman Christos Protopappas said journalists would have all they needed, promising to issue court transcripts every three hours. «There is no problem concerning transparency,» he said. «The only people with a problem are two or three (journalists) who hoped to reap personal gains by turning the trial into a televised show.»

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