Terror trial dissolves into farce

The trial of suspected members of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire urban guerrilla group was adjourned on Monday after chaos broke out in a courtroom in Korydallos Prison and the outlook for the resumption of the proceedings remained unclear after the defendants dismissed their own lawyers but refused to be represented by court-appointed advocates.

The nine suspects who appeared in court on Monday (another four are being tried in absentia) walked out after the presiding judge rejected their demand that people attending the trial have their police identification cards returned. The defendants said they did not want their lawyers to represent them anymore but they also said that they would not accept the appointment of replacement lawyers. This means that the trial, which started last week, might not resume on Tuesday as scheduled.

The defendants threatened to go on hunger strike if the court authorities do not fulfill their demands – to return ID cards to people attending the trial and to allow the trial proceedings to be recorded (this procedure was to be forgone to save money).

The third session of the proceedings got out of control on Monday after the presiding judge ordered a woman to be removed from the public gallery because she was shouting. When police officers moved in, they were surrounded by other people attending the trial and a scuffle broke out.

The fracas intensified after guards began to fear that the alleged terrorists were using a break in proceedings to escape from custody. According to sources, the police official in charge of security for the trial shouted out: ?Run! It?s an escape attempt!? Officers noticed that some of the suspects had managed to get out of the courtroom and were running toward the prison?s exercise yard. Dozens of policemen were dispatched to round up the suspects and lead them back to the holding area.

The suspects have been charged in connection with a string of bloodless bomb attacks on state buildings and the homes of politicians over the past two years.