Savvas Xeros: Confessions were forced

Savvas Xeros, the self-confessed November 17 operative whose serious injury by a bomb he was carrying in Piraeus on June 29, 2002 gave police their first big break, told the court yesterday that it was not he but the confessions of «another Savvas» that had resulted in 19 suspects standing trial in Korydallos Prison. Xeros, a painter of religious icons, was the second defendant to take the witness stand, following Dimitris Koufodinas who presented the court with a manifesto but no information regarding the workings and membership of November 17. Koufodinas, a beekeeper, is married to Xeros’s first wife, Angeliki Sotiropoulou, the only woman defendant. Two of his brothers are also on trial. Xeros’s confessions to police and a public prosecutor as he was recovering in Evangelismos Hospital last year set in motion a chain of events and arrests, leading to the trial which began in early March. He has since claimed he was «tortured» with mood-altering drugs to induce his confessions and has demanded that this testimony, as well as that to an investigating judge, be scrapped. He repeated this call yesterday, returning to the court after a two-week walkout. «First, we will solve this problem and then I will testify. It was not I but another Savvas who made these confessions – the one they had turned me into at that time,» Xeros said. He claimed he had been given drugs and injected with «truth serum» at the hospital. «I was tortured and I cannot accept this… I cannot recover from this,» he said. The court is to rule on this on Monday. Prosecutor Christos Lambrou commented: «Savvas is in a difficult situation; that’s why he says what he says. He regrets what he said while at Evangelismos.» He attributed Xeros’s change to the hard line take by Koufodinas after he gave himself up and claimed political responsibility for N17 but refused to provide any information. Lambrou said Xeros’s mind had functioned well while in the hospital. «If only he had taken society’s side and condemned violence. If anyone can claim extenuating circumstances it is he, but he did not help me,» he said. Xeros said he did not know alleged leader Alexandros Yotopoulos, despite his earlier confessions.

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