NEWS

Yotopoulos takes stand in N17 trial

Alexandros Yotopoulos, the alleged mastermind behind the November 17 terrorist group, began his keenly awaited testimony yesterday. But, after a testy 10 minutes, during which he clashed with the two prosecutors, his testimony was postponed to today. Yotopoulos, a 59-year-old Paris-born translator, denies any involvement in N17 and claims he is the victim of a setup by American and British agents. He had been living under the alias Michalis Economou before his arrest on July 17, 2002. Several defendants named him in testimony that they later retracted, but penitent members Patroklos Tselentis, Costas Telios and Sotiris Kondylis have identified him with the code name he allegedly used, Lambros. Yotopoulos took the stand shortly after 2.30 p.m., holding a pack of notes. «You appear frightened,» prosecutor Christos Lambrou said. «Not at all,» Yotopoulos replied. «Are you going to use notes for your testimony? You disappoint me,» the second prosecutor, Vassilis Markis commented. Yotopoulos responded angrily. «Do you want me to bring the indictment you have drawn up? I face 963 charges and want to respond. The prosecutor here (Lambrou) has three lines to say and he reads them,» he said. Earlier, Angeliki Sotiropoulou, the only woman among the 19 defendants, said she had nothing to do with N17. Sotiropoulou, 41, is the wife of alleged chief operative Dimitris Koufodinas and the former wife of another defendant, Savvas Xeros. She said she was on trial because of her relationship with the two. She described June 29, 2002, the night in which Savvas Xeros was injured by a bomb he was carrying as the night she learned that Koufodinas was a member of N17. «Dimitris came back at 4 or 5 a.m. and that’s when he told me he had something to do with the organization and that there had been a serious accident and that from there on we’d have serious problems. He said there’d been a serious explosion,» Sotiropoulou said. «The next day we went to a playground in Holargos. The child (their son) was playing. We sat on a bench and he told me that it was Savvas who was injured, that a bomb had gone off in his hands.»