ELA prosecution embarrassment

The case against four suspected Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) terrorists arrested 11 months ago suffered a major setback yesterday when a key prosecution witness was convicted of verbally assaulting and threatening to denounce her estranged former husband – the first ELA suspect to be captured. An Athens misdemeanors court gave Sophia Kyriakidou a suspended three-month prison sentence for using abusive language against Angeletos Kanas, 52, in February 2002. The court also ruled that Kyriakidou, who gave counterterrorism police the information that led to Kanas’s arrest nearly a year later, threatened to send her former husband to prison by denouncing him as a member of the November 17 terrorist group. Kyriakidou did not appear in court. But Kanas, an electrician who in October 2002 was elected mayor of the small island of Kimolos in the Cyclades – only to be stripped of office after his January 31 arrest – did turn up, with a heavy police escort. «She was blackmailing me, asking for money, and had threatened to tell police I was a November 17 member,» Kanas said. «Her threats were carried out a year later… She hates me and wants to harm me because I married another woman.» Kanas’s second wife and their young daughter were present at the incident. Only one of the four ELA suspects, 64-year-old architect Christos Tsigaridas – the alleged group leader – has admitted any connection with the extreme left-wing organization. He was released from prison in May, due to poor health. ELA killed two people and set off over 100 bombs during a 20-year campaign from 1975 to 1995, after which it appears to have unofficially disbanded. Police claim the group had links with N17, but no evidence to support this has emerged during the ongoing trial of 19 N17 suspects.