Arguing that November 17 was a political movement whose crimes were of a political nature, lawyers representing the 18 men and one woman on trial for membership of the far-left terrorist group called for their clients to be tried by jury. The matter was raised by Ioanna Kourtovik, who represents alleged chief hit man Dimitris Koufodinas and his wife, Angeliki Sotiropoulou. «The group is a political organization that was created during the dictatorship,» she said. «The November 17 proclamations continuously stress the need for a democratic revolution and the building of popular power.» Georgios Agiostratitis, who represents the three Xeros brothers, said that under the Constitution political crimes should be tried by a jury court. He argued that, apart from the group’s 23 assassinations, all the other N17 crimes «are political crimes perpetrated as part of [N17’s] political activity.» The debate is to continue on Tuesday, when the court will next convene after Monday’s holiday. Meanwhile, in a sign of a deepening rift between some of the defendants yesterday, N17 suspects Costas Karatsolis, Iraklis Costaris and Pavlos Serifis issued a written statement rejecting Koufodinas’s claim that the court might be biased. «We wish to state that we are entirely certain of the court’s objectivity and impartiality,» the statement said. Koufodinas indicated that he had no intention of seeking a leading role among the defendants, telling the court N17 had no leader. «I represent nobody,» he told the court. But he also said that, apart from the political responsibility, he accepted criminal responsibility for the group’s acts.