Nikolaos Dertilis was buried in Athens Thursday amid controversy as Bishop Amvrosios of Kalavryta praised the late junta collaborator comparing him to Theodoros Kolokotronis, an icon of Greece’s War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire, as well as ancient Greek philosopher Socrates.
“Dertilis was a hero like Kolokotronis and Socrates,” said Amvrosios who conducted the funeral service.
“I know that the media will tear me apart and say that I have no right to speak [my mind]. Since the media had already decided that I would be the one to conduct the funeral service before I personally had made a decision, I decided to go ahead and do it,” he said.
The funeral was attended by several deputies and supporters of Golden Dawn, the country’s neofascist party which earlier this week saluted Dertilis, who was the last surviving member of the 1967-74 military dictatorship’s hierarchy, as “an exceptional Greek and a soldier who shed his blood for his country on the battlefields.”
Gunshots were fired amid cheers and applause from the crowd as the late general was put to rest. Reports said police detained one person after he was found carrying 5 bullet shells. Authorities were investigating his home, reports said.
After the restoration of democracy, Dertilis was sentenced to life in prison for shooting dead of a young protester during the bloody suppression of a student uprising in 1973. He died on Monday at the age of 94.
In a statement Thursday, junior coalition partner Democratic Left attacked Amvrosios calling him a “preacher of hate.”
The leftist party said the bishop had with the help of Golden Dawn turned the funeral into a “show against democracy and a gathering of junta remnants.”