N17 sentences due tomorrow

Fifteen people found guilty of being members of the November 17 terrorist group are to be sentenced tomorrow at 9 a.m. Proceedings continued yesterday with arguments for leniency by some of the defense lawyers before the three judges withdrew to consider the sentences. Lawyers representing the Xeros brothers made conflicting requests. Frangiskos Ragousis asked the court to bring the full weight of the law to bear on Savvas Xeros, whose injury in a bomb blast in June 2002 led to the arrest of the other accused, and for «no mercy» for Christodoulos Xeros. The prosecution has asked for 10 and six life terms respectively for Christodoulos and Savvas. Ragousis called for a reduced sentence for the third Xeros brother, Vassilis. Yiannis Vlachos, also representing the brothers, called for leniency for all three, asking the court to recognize what he called the political nature of the crimes. Counsel for the group’s mastermind Alexandros Yotopoulos raised no argument. Prosecutor Christos Lambrou has proposed that he be sentenced to 21 life terms. Ioanna Kourtovic, representing Dimitris Koufodinas, the group’s chief of operations, said the defendants had been tried «as if they were political opponents.» Her client asked for no mercy, she said. Prosecutor Lambrou last week proposed a record total of 55 life sentences on six defendants and thousands of years of imprisonment for the group’s 27-year spree of murder, explosions and robberies. Judges do not necessarily follow prosecutors’ proposals. November 17 claimed 23 murders between December 1975 and June 2000, before its collapse in 2002. But due to the 20-year statute of limitations, the trial does not cover murders before 1984.