Trial of 5 ELA suspects set to begin on Feb. 9

The trial of five suspected members of the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) group will begin on February 9 in the same Korydallos Prison courtroom where 15 members of the November 17 terrorist gang were last week sentenced to long jail terms. The Council of Appeals Court Judges yesterday issued indictments against architect Christos Tsigaridas, civil engineer Costas Agapiou, electrician and former Kimolos Mayor Angeletos Kanas, travel agency employee Irene Athanassaki and civil servant Michalis Kassimis. It ordered them to stand trial on charges of involvement in a criminal organization, procuring and possessing explosives and weapons, involvement in a total of 82 terrorist acts, including the murders of Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Anastassios Vernardos in 1989 and senior police officer Apostolos Velios in 1994 and the attempted murder of General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) President Giorgos Raftopoulos in 1987. The council ordered further investigations into Yiannis Serifis and Epaminondas Skyftoulis. The former was acquitted earlier this month of involvement in November 17; the latter testified in defense of the man convicted of being the group’s mastermind, Alexandros Yotopoulos. Serifis is to be probed with regard to the bombing that killed Velios, and Skyftoulis in regard to a 1989 bomb attack against journalist Kyriakos Diakoyiannis. In the indictment, the council said: «From early 1975, the accused and other persons unknown to the investigation formed the Revolutionary Popular Struggle terrorist organization. From then until the group’s arrest (January 2003), they carried out various criminal acts for which they claimed responsibility through written proclamations or simple telephone calls. At first the group comprised a single group of people but later it formed autonomous terrorist groups of at least three members and with different names, specifically: Popular Struggle, Revolutionary Popular Struggle, Red Initiative, May 1, and others.» The council said 101 crimes should be written off because of the statute of limitations. It said that although they might have political motives, the violent acts constituted terrorism and should be heard by a criminal court.