Terror group trial begins amid tension

The trial of 13 suspected members of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire urban guerrilla group started in a tense atmosphere on Monday as the defendants threatened to walk out unless the judge agreed to their demands.

The nine suspects (four are being tried in absentia) at the opening session in a Korydallos Prison courtroom demanded the judge prevent police from photocopying the identity cards of friends and relatives attending the trial. ?We ask that the details of those coming to support us are not recorded,? said one of the suspects, Panayiotis Masouras. ?We will not contribute to them having a police file. If our request is not met, we will walk out.?

The judge agreed that observers should be let in after only showing their ID card, not having it photocopied. She also agreed that the suspected members of the group that carried out a series of bloodless bomb attacks on public buildings and politicians? homes should not wear handcuffs during breaks in the trial. Security for the trial was stepped up after a massive bomb exploded outside the Athens Court of First Instance on December 30.

Meanwhile, four suspects arrested last week on suspicion of planning a terrorist hit to coincide with the start of the Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire trial were remanded in custody on Monday. They were named as Dimitris Fessas, Dimitris Dimitsiadis, Haralambos Stylianidis and Sokratis Tzifkas. A 27-year-old German woman arrested last week was released. Police admitted that they had made a mistake in informing journalists that she was the daughter of a suspected member of the Red Army Faction – a defunct leftist German guerrilla group.