N17 suspect speaks only of ideology

Dimitris Koufodinas, the man who is alleged to have been November 17’s head of operations and its chief executioner, was unrepentant over the terrorist group’s 23 murders and scores of other attacks. The 45-year-old beekeeper provided no information regarding the makeup and actions of the group that operated with impunity from 1975 until its rapid collapse a year ago. The first of the 19 suspected members to testify, Koufodinas read a manifesto which resembled the long, rambling extreme leftist and nationalistic proclamations the gang would issue frequently. Aggressive and at the same time emotionally upset (weeping at one point when he read a poem by Costis Palamas, one of Greece’s greatest 20th century poets, exhorting a son to keep the faith), Koufodinas presented what appeared to be the terrorist group’s swan song. Showing no remorse for the group’s victims and their relatives, Koufodinas called himself «a child of the Left» and he called on Marx, Lenin and Che Guevara, tangling them with Greek fighters in the War of Independence. Scores of supporters who had crowded the courtroom in Korydallos Prison next to victims’ families began to cheer at one stage, prompting Judge Michalis Margaritis to order their eviction. «I will not present what you would call an apology,» Koufodinas said. «I reject the charges… Your court does not want to – and cannot – judge November 17 for what it was. With a judicial system and a penal code which we will endure but which we cannot recognize, with a judicial system which does not exist for the representatives of wealth and power.» He called the court a tribunal for «extraordinary measures.» He said N17’s ideology was principally «anti-imperialist» and «anti-capitalist.» «Our actions were political,» he insisted. N17, he said, belonged to the Left. «There is a Left which does not turn the other cheek but kicks you in the shin. An irregular Left. That’s where N17 belongs.» He said the group was «allergic to leaders.» He expressed remorse only for the death of a passer-by, Thanos Axarlian, in an attack in July 1992. Koufodinas’s wife, Angeliki Sotiropoulou, is the only woman defendant.

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