N17 ‘served political interests’

Lawyers representing families of victims and surviving targets of November 17 yesterday argued that the crimes committed over 27 years by the extreme left-wing terrorist group cannot be classified as political offenses, as defense lawyers have claimed in a bid to have their clients tried by jury. On Tuesday, the prosecution also argued that the three-judge criminal appeals court, sitting since March 3 in a Korydallos Prison courtroom, is competent to try the 19 defendants, as their alleged crimes are by no means political. At the opening of yesterday’s seventh day of the trial, which is expected to last well into the summer, alleged N17 chief hit man Dimitris Koufodinas, a 45-year-old beekeeper, intervened in the proceedings to defend the group against a defense lawyer’s assertion, on Tuesday, that N17 targeted American tourists. «It is obvious that we were not referring to American tourists, with whom we have no problem,» he said, quoting an old N17 proclamation that threatened to attack the «genocide machine» of the US military «whether these murderers work in the US bases in our country or have come on holiday to our islands.» The 23 people killed by N17 included four Americans. The only surprise in a session dominated by lawyers representing relatives of N17 victims who have filed civil suits was the contention, by PASOK’s former transport minister, Giorgos Petsos, that a 1989 assassination attempt against him by the group was dictated by «political interests» other than those of N17, linked with the then-pending corruption trial of PASOK founder and former PM Andreas Papandreou. «My disappearance would have served political interests of the time. The [Papandreou] trial would not have taken place had I not survived,» he said.

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