NEWS

A decent cover job

The November 17 terrorist group had once considered opening a restaurant at Syntagma Square or a fast-food outlet to end their reliance on bank robberies as a source of revenue, group member Patroklos Tselentis told the court trying the 19 terrorism suspects yesterday. Tselentis, who has admitted membership of November 17 from 1983 to 1988, continued his revelations about the group’s structure and operations in his second day of deposition, drawing the ire of some of his fellow defendants, especially Christodoulos Xeros and Alexandros Yotopoulos. Tselentis has identified the former as a major operative in the group’s assassinations, and the latter as one of the group’s leaders. Both deny their involvement in November 17, although the former had confessed at length last year, and the court has accepted his confession as valid. Dimitris Koufodinas, who, Tselentis said, recruited him into the group and whom he also identifies as a leader, said: «What Tselentis said is part of a deal (with authorities). There are many truths and many lies in it.» Tselentis described Yotopoulos as an «imposing» person whom he had initially respected but whom he gradually came to see as too rigid. Koufodinas, he said, was a «sincere» but socially awkward man of the people. Tselentis also identified defendant Nikos Papanastassiou as having taken part in some discussions among group members, but not in any action. He added that he had never seen or heard of Yiannis Serifis or Theologos Psaradellis while with the group and that there were no female members, as far as he knew. The terrorists met at regular intervals in public places, such as cafes, and spoke in code. They never used the telephone to communicate with each other. As for the hideouts, where they kept weapons, they were many and no single member knew all of them. One of the weapons, a 45-caliber pistol which had been used in November 17’s first hit, the assassination of CIA station master Richard Welch on December 23, 1975, was rarely used and never concealed in a hideout, but buried on a mountainside, Tselentis revealed. Tselentis left Nov17 in 1988, when he felt that the organization was turning into a purely «militaristic» outfit with no concern for social change. Tselentis informed Yotopoulos and Koufodinas of his decision; both seemed relieved.