Judge: N17 defendants had ‘vision’

The judge presiding over the trial of 19 suspected members of the November 17 terrorist group, Michalis Margaritis, yesterday stunned even defense lawyers when he declared that he could not judge the defendants as «common criminals.» The issue is a sensitive one because the Council of Appeals Court Judges and Margaritis’s own three-judge court have ruled that the 19 are being tried for ordinary crimes. Recognizing political motives would have entailed a trial by a court combining judges and jurors. Addressing the defendants, Margaritis said: «I believe that inside you, you believe that you did something good. I cannot say that you are common criminals. I don’t see you that way and you have sensed that. I cannot judge you as common criminals. You say that you are here because you had a vision. We will investigate this…» He added: «But let’s leave ideology aside and look at the crimes. We will not convict anyone for his ideology.» Lawyer Ioanna Kourtovic, who represents alleged N17 chief hit man Dimitris Koufodinas, said, «The president of the court said what we have been saying for months.»