Media take center stage at N17 trial

A fruitless debate on whether to lift a ban on television and radio coverage of the November 17 trial took up most of yesterday’s session in the Korydallos Prison courtroom. Counsel defending the 19 suspected members of the extreme left-wing group that killed 23 people between December 1975 and June 2000 argued in favor of allowing TV crews into the hall, as did several lawyers representing relatives of N17 victims or surviving targets who have filed civil suits. Under recent legislation intended to crack down on media sensationalism while protecting defendants’ privacy, TV and radio coverage of trials is normally not allowed. An exception may only be made in cases where the court decides that broadcasting the process would serve the public interest, but even then judges must secure the consent of the prosecution, the defendants, and third parties attending the trial as civil claimants. Defendant Yiannis Serifis said the trial should be broadcast «as a matter of principle,» and despite the fact that «the media are in the hands of merchants.» But the prosecutor as well as lawyers representing N17’s US, Turkish and British victims, Pavlos Bakoyiannis, Michalis Vranopoulos and Thanos Axarlian, as well as businessman Vardis Vardinoyiannis who escaped an anti-tank missile attack, opposed TV and radio coverage. The matter is expected to be settled today, when the court will also discuss an objection by a defense lawyer who claimed the appointment by lot of the three judges had been illegal as not all appeals court judges were included in the process. Meanwhile, in a statement published yesterday, the Association of Greek Building Contractors expressed surprise at the cost of the 500-square-meter courtroom’s refurbishment, which totaled 2.05 million euros. The association said the price was extraordinarily high, and would normally be enough to pay for 4,000 square meters of suburban residential buildings. It also called for a prosecutor to investigate the matter. The project was completed by a company set up by the Ministry of Justice to undertake court construction work.

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