Spat over N17 trial lawyer

The trial of the November 17 terrorist gang was marked yesterday by two disputes, one inside and one outside the courtroom. Inside, Alexandros Yotopoulos, the purported gang leader, and self-confessed member Christodoulos Xeros, who has retracted his earlier confession, hotly disputed, for the second day running, the testimony of Constantinos Bakatselos, an eyewitness in the murder of publisher Nikos Momferatos, on February 21,1985. Bakatselos was the first witness to place Yotopoulos at the scene of a crime. Yotopoulos and his lawyer Yiannis Rahiotis questioned the witness’s credibility, implying that he was repeating a story fed to him by the police. In Parliament, New Democracy MP Apostolos Andreoulakos demanded that Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis fire one of his counselors, Vassilis Karysis, a professor of criminology and criminal law who is also counsel to November 17 member Dimitris Koufodinas, accused of being the gang’s main executioner. Andreoulakos tried to link Karydis’s presence as an expert in a ministry group on anti-criminal measures to the voluntary surrender of Koufodinas to police last September. Andreoulakos also implied that Gianna Kourtovic, also counsel to Koufodinas, had participated in a November 17 bank robbery in 1984 that resulted in the death of policeman Christos Matis. Chrysochoidis replied that Andreoulakos’s question was part of the tactics by a number of conservative MPs to identify the ruling Socialists with November 17. He added that this was akin to accusing several MPs, who are also practicing lawyers, of being accomplices of drug traffickers because they had defended such people in the courts.

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