NEWS

Prosecutor rips into N17

Proclaiming that he wanted «justice for all those who were killed in such a cowardly way,» the prosecutor in the November 17 trial yesterday launched a blistering attack on the defendants, saying they were common criminals who «brought pain, blood and sorrow upon many families.» N17 killed 23 people between 1975 and its collapse in 2002. «Who gave this bunch of conspirators the right to take lives? They judged, they condemned and they murdered with arbitrary criteria and summary executions,» prosecutor Christos Lambrou charged. «The accused took lives, they spread death among unsuspecting citizens, they widowed women and orphaned children, they brought pain, blood and sorrow upon many families,» he said. «In this trial we experienced violence, hatred, evil, hypocrisy and stupidity, but, most of all, blood, pain and sorrow. Here we will judge crimes and criminals, not ideologies,» Lambrou said. His summing up, which will continue today, opened one of the final phases of the trial of 19 suspects that began on March 3. This will be followed by presentations by lawyers representing the families of victims and survivors of the group’s attacks and then by defense lawyers, before the three judges retire to consider their verdicts. Lambrou appeared to stick close to the indictments. But in two departures, so far, he proposed that Angeliki Sotiropoulou, the only woman defendant, be found innocent of being at the site of the explosion on June 29, 2002, which led to the group’s collapse. He also hinted strongly that Marie-Therese Peynaud, the companion of alleged N17 mastermind Alexandros Yotopoulos, might have been the woman called «Anna» who is believed to have been at the group’s first murder, that of CIA station chief Richard Welch in December 1975. Lambrou asked which woman would be trusted to such an extent by Yotopoulos, before adding that Yotopoulos had met Peynaud in 1973 and that their relationship was very strong. Peynaud, like Yotopoulos, says she has no connection with N17. Lambrou called Yotopoulos, a 56-year-old Paris-born translator, «the natural leader, the instructor, the mastermind, the writer of the organization’s proclamations.» Yotopoulos read a book on a Greek World War II resistance organization (EPON) and a newspaper while Lambrou spoke. But during a break he told reporters that «what (anti-terrorism prosecutor Ioannis) Diotis did not dare to do Lambrou did,» by trying to tie Peynaud to N17. Lambrou said Yotopoulos and a few others had set up N17 after the collapse of the right-wing junta in 1974. «He came to obstruct democracy, to harm institutions and the political system, bringing with him revolutionary violence as a weapon,» he said. Referring to evidence, testimony of other defendants and witnesses, Lambrou said Yotopoulos had carried out the Welch murder in 1975. «He is submerged in the criminal actions of N17,» Lambrou said. «He taught the others to be good criminals and terrorists.» Regarding N17’s alleged chief operative, Dimitris Koufodinas, Lambrou said the latter’s claim of «political responsibility» for N17’s actions was «hypocritical and provocative,» adding that politics had «nothing to do with murder.» Sotiropoulou (Koufodinas’s wife) should be found guilty of being an accomplice in the group’s last murder, that of British Brig. Stephen Saunders in June 2000, Lambrou said. «She is deeply submerged in N17’s criminal activities but she is lucky that the investigation did not prove her involvement in other attacks,» Lambrou said. He indicated that he will propose lighter sentences for penitents Patroklos Tselentis and Costas Telios, which could spare them life terms. He accused veteran trade unionist Yiannis Serifis of recruiting N17 members. Self-confessed N17 member Savvas Xeros said he had filed suit against anti-terror squad chief Stelios Syros and prosecutor Diotis for allegedly subjecting him to «torture» after his injury in the June 2002 blast. Xeros’s confessions led to the gang’s collapse.