NEWS

Savvas Xeros admits N17 heist

Effectively backtracking from his adamant denial of November 17 involvement in a lucrative series of Athens and Piraeus armed robberies, a leading suspect appeared to admit on Wednesday that the left-wing terrorist group could only finance its activities through bank heists. Dimitris Koufodinas, a 45-year-old beekeeper accused of being the group’s chief hit man, told the Korydallos prison court – where 19 N17 defendants have been on trial since March 3 – that robbers were morally superior to bankers. «When an intruder enters the bank he openly declares his intentions,» Koufodinas said. «[Bank] owners hide behind their ornate desks and operate in a much more catastrophic and rapacious way.» While insisting that he does not admit to the robberies «as set out in the official charges,» he added that «revolutionary movements across the world cannot take loans, issue coupons or receive funds from political parties or businessmen. They always take what they need from the enemy.» The prosecution’s contention that N17 carried out a string of armed robberies to raise funds led many Greeks to regard the group as a professional gang of hired assassins. Also on Wednesday, witnesses identified brothers Savvas, Christodoulos and Vassilis Xeros as having taken part in three robberies between 1989 and 2001. Only Savvas Xeros admitted his involvement. Meanwhile, in its annual report on global terrorism, the US State Department on Wednesday praised Greece for its «historical progress» against terrorism with the N17 arrests, but claimed that «the Greek government’s record on transnational terrorist groups is mixed.» Pressed to elucidate, State Department coordinator for counterterrorism Cofer Black said: «There are some terrorist groups that have offices in Athens.»