A portrait of top N17 suspects

The deeply contrasting defense tactics adopted by the two chief November 17 defendants were a determining factor in the stance of most other suspects, a prosecutor at the key terrorism trial argued yesterday. Deputy prosecutor Vassilis Markis claimed that alleged group mastermind Alekos Yotopoulos, 59, denied any connection with the group – which killed 23 people during its 27 years of unchecked action – to keep the November 17 legend alive. But this baffled his fellow-defendants, who confessed to save their skins. Dimitris Koufodinas, on the other hand – a beekeeper who was allegedly the group’s chief hit man – accepted political responsibility for N17’s crimes but divulged no operational details in order to staunch the flood of confessions, Markis argued. «Mr Yotopoulos claims his fingerprints, his handwriting and his fellow-defendants’ confessions were all faked,» Markis said. «Had he confessed, he would have laid the tombstone on the group… But, in my opinion, this approach, which was in keeping with the rules of secrecy, caused the group’s dissolution. When the others saw their leader had forsaken them and pretended not to know them, they decided to save their skins as best they could.» Markis described Koufodinas, 45, as a «criminal talent» who «tried and to a great extent succeeded in stopping» his fellow defendants’ cooperation with the authorities. After Koufodinas turned himself in on August 6 last year, most of the suspects who had confessed recanted. Markis said Koufodinas was not the kind of man who could be persuaded that «his acts, which caused pain and destruction, were carried out with criminal motives. He is obsessed with ideology. Should anyone ever manage to convince him, then he will either go mad or kill himself.»

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