First N17 survivor takes stand

The first surviving November 17 target to testify during the ongoing trial of 19 suspected members of the extreme left-wing terrorist group was unable yesterday to positively identify the man who shot him in the legs 14 years ago. Retired prosecutor Panayiotis Tarasouleas and his wife, Elpida, who was present at the shooting, both said they thought alleged N17 hit man Savvas Xeros – a 41-year-old Athens icon-painter – had pulled the trigger. But neither was sure. «He shot me four times,» Tarasouleas said. «I turned, saw him and asked, ‘Why did you do that?’ He looked confused, said nothing and left.» N17 claimed to have not intended to kill the prosecutor during the January 18, 1989 attack outside his Athens home. Yesterday, Xeros – two of whose brothers are also in the dock – refused to say whether he had pulled the trigger, maintaining that he has «accepted political responsibility» for the N17 attacks. However, Xeros denies all charges against him. He also accused the Tarasouleas couple of perjury, and claimed the prosecutor had «destroyed people and families» – drawing an angry reprimand from presiding judge Michalis Margaritis. The trial resumes on Monday with prosecution witnesses scheduled to testify in connection with the attempted killing of Socialist former minister Giorgos Petsos and his driver in Filothei, northern Athens, on May 8, 1989 and the assassination, four-and-a-half months later in Kolonaki, central Athens, of conservative New Democracy MP Pavlos Bakoyiannis. His widow, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, is expected to attend. The trial, one of the most important in post-WWII Greek history, has now picked up steam after the first 11 days were spent on procedural issues such as whether the three-judge criminal court was competent to try the defendants.

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