N17 suspect freed without bail

The 20th suspect to be formally accused of membership of the November 17 terrorist group, a 42-year-old Athens graphic artist, was set free without bail on Saturday after testifying before an examining judge. Costas Avramidis, who police say is a close friend of the extreme left-wing group’s alleged chief hitman, 45-year-old beekeeper Dimitris Koufodinas, denied being an N17 member and claimed the charges against him were politically motivated. «The obvious reason was to terrorize members of the movement against the state’s arbitrary behaviour,» Avramidis said in a statement handed to journalists. He told examining judge Leonidas Zervobeakos, who has handled the N17 and Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) investigations, that he belongs to the «Rally against state terrorism» rights group, which has staged several demonstrations in support of the 19 people on trial for participation in N17’s 27-year spree of killings, bomb attacks and bank robberies. A civil engineering graduate who worked as a graphics artist and builder and is currently employed by the Technical Chamber of Greece in its data bank, Avramidis has not been charged in connection with any specific N17 attack. His arrest on Thursday was made on the strength of the discovery of one of his fingerprints in an urban guerrilla warfare handbook police found in one of the two N17 safe houses in central Athens last summer. Another link emerged from the testimony of two N17 defendants, who named a certain Costas as having been associated with the group. The trial of 19 N17 suspects opened in a courthouse in the Athens Korydallos jail on March 3. The only other suspect to be released after his arrest was Yiannis Serifis, freed on bail of 30,000 euros in early January after two months in pretrial custody.