N17 suspects express ‘sorrow’

In his only sign of contrition since the November 17 terrorism trial opened on March 3, the group’s alleged chief assassin, who has accepted «political responsibility» for N17’s attacks, yesterday apologized for the death of a bystander during an attempted central Athens hit. «I would like to express my deep sorrow,» Dimitris Koufodinas said in a low voice, devoid of its usual aggression, during an interval in the testimony of the victim’s mother, Stavroula Axarlian. Her son, Thanos, was killed on July 14, 1992 when a N17 rocket missed the car carrying Finance Minister Yiannis Palaiokrassas and hit the pavement of Karagiorgi Servias Street beside the 22-year-old student, just off Syntagma Square. «I cannot accept their apology,» Stavroula Axarlian replied. «They do not concern me. For me, these people do not exist.» She told the court that her son was «sacrificed.» «I have waited long for this moment, for I have never spoken on the matter. Thanos was a boy who could have offered a lot to society. After the attack, I appealed for [N17] to stop… Syntagma Square is a central spot. They did not want to kill my son alone, but a lot of people.» N17 suspect Constantinos Telios, who admits to having been «present» at the attack, also expressed regrets at its result. «I wish to express my deepest sorrow,» he said. Palaiokrassas told the court he had only escaped because he made a wide turn into a side street. «There is no doubt that they tried to kill me.» And asked by presiding judge Michalis Margaritis whether the attack was of a political nature or could have changed the form of government – as many of the 19 N17 defendants claim – he answered: «Definitely not. The only result would have been to burden the State with the cost of my funeral.»