Open split among N17 defendants

A deep rift emerged yesterday in the dock at the November 17 terrorism trial as a second defendant stepped up to back claims by repentant former group member Patroklos Tselentis that a top N17 suspect had tried to blackmail him out of making revelations in court about the left-wing group. Yesterday, during the third day of his testimony, Tselentis insisted that Alexandros Yotopoulos, the alleged N17 mastermind, had told him during a prison encounter that if Tselentis’s depositions pointed the finger at him, other suspects would implicate Tselentis in the fatal shooting of policeman Christos Matis during a bank robbery in December 1984. Yotopoulos denies his involvement in N17, while Tselentis, who says he belonged to the group between 1983-88, has named self-confessed member Dimitris Koufodinas as Matis’s killer. At this point, defendant Sotiris Kondylis, who has also admitted to membership in the terror group, stood up and said: «I confirm what Tselentis is saying about the goings-on (in prison). When he says he is being threatened, this is no lie.» A flustered Yotopoulos insisted that Tselentis was lying. However, Tselentis not only stood by his account but added that, on Tuesday night, Yotopoulos tried to convince defendants Vassilis Tzortzatos and Pavlos Serifis that he (Tselentis) had murdered Matis and publisher Nikos Momferatos, in 1985. Kondylis witnessed the incident and countered Yotopoulos’s version that it was merely a discussion about Tselentis’s alleged involvement in the murders. «Yotopoulos was talking to the people Tselentis mentioned. What Patroklos said is true,» said Kondylis, while Tselentis interjected sardonically: «Yes, Mr Yotopoulos. The same man who says he is innocent and has been framed…» Yotopoulos agreed yesterday to be cross-examined in court together with Tselentis, but after his own deposition. There was also tension between Tselentis’s and Yotopoulos’s lawyers, as the latter branded the former’s client a liar seeking to lighten his own burden and render services to authorities who wanted Yotopoulos convicted.