NEWS

Nov17 court upholds ban on TV, radio

The court trying 19 suspected members of the November 17 terrorist organization yesterday rejected the defendants’ demand for television and radio coverage of the trial, judging that the ban was constitutional as the courtroom in a specially refurbished hall in Korydallos Prison is open to members of the public. The court also threw out a defense complaint that the composition of the court – which is made up of three judges and no jury – was illegal. The court found the selection process of judges from the whole body of appeals court judges guaranteed objectivity. In another development, most defendants (except for the only woman, Angeliki Sotiropoulou) yesterday allowed photographers to take still photographs of them, providing the public with the first images of the people accused of involvement in 23 murders over 27 years since the torrent of arrests last summer. Also, from today, the court will sit from 9.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., adjourning an hour earlier than initially scheduled after the Athens Bar Association ruled that its members must stop work at 3. In the most dramatic incident of the day, Dimitris Koufodinas, who is suspected of being the operational chief of November 17 and has claimed what he calls «political responsibility» for the group’s actions, demanded that presiding judge Michalis Margaritis recuse himself. Koufodinas claims that November 17’s actions were politically motivated and that the trial is rigged. «After all this, I think that the only correct position and the only proposal you should accept would be to resign, otherwise you will end your career as the appointed judge of a special court which is obliged to convict and to hand down the heaviest sentences on the basis of non-existent evidence.» To this, Margaritis replied: «Indeed, I have been appointed. I was appointed 30 years ago.» Shortly afterward another defendant, Sotiris Kondylis, addressed the court and made clear that Koufodinas did not speak for him. «Each one of us here expresses his own position with his statements. We do not have a leader… At least I don’t,» he said. Koufodinas later clarified that he spoke only for himself and Savvas Xeros.