N17 ‘quarry-turned-hunter’

As the names of over 560 witnesses who will testify over the next few months in the November 17 trial were read in court yesterday, the prosecution rejected defense arguments that the 19 suspected extreme left-wing terrorists should be tried by a jury for political – as opposed to ordinary criminal – offenses. «The Constitution provides for a preferential approach to political crime,» prosecutor Christos Lambrou told the court, which is sitting in a Korydallos Prison hall used 28 years ago for the trial of the 1967-74 junta leaders. «Can a democratic Constitution really accord a preferential approach to crimes that lead to its own abolition, that is, to the abolition of democracy? The answer is ‘no.’» Under a two-year-old anti-terrorism law, the 19 suspects are being tried by a three-judge criminal court. But the defense says the court is not competent to try the suspects, arguing that as the nature of N17’s crimes – 23 killings, dozens of bomb attacks and a string of bank robberies between 1975 and 2002 – is political, they have the right to trial by jury. Ioannis Rahiotis, who represents alleged N17 mastermind Alexandros Yotopoulos, said N17 represented the «aggressive left.» «Before N17, the left maintained a defensive role,» he said. «N17 is the quarry that decided to turn hunter… Its activity is clearly political. Call it a crime, but a political crime.» But Ilias Anagnostopoulos, who represents the families of N17’s US victims, said N17 carried out «callous murders, lucrative robberies and blind bomb attacks spiced with politics.» The debate continues today. Yesterday, presiding judge Michalis Margartis called a list of 333 prosecution and 230 defense witnesses. The latter include former Socialist Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, WWII hero Manolis Glezos and French Euro MP Alain Krivine.

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