ELA terrorism trial kicks off

Nearly two months after the end of the November 17 terrorism trial, four men and one woman appeared in the same Korydallos prison courtroom yesterday to be tried on over 150 charges related to attacks by the extreme left-wing Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) group. Architect Christos Tsigaridas, 64, civil engineer Costas Agapiou, 56, electrician and former mayor of Kimolos Angeletos Kanas, 52, travel agency employee Irini Athanassaki, 48 and civil servant Michalis Kassimis, 58, are accused of ELA membership and involvement in 82 acts of terrorism carried out between 1983 and the mid-1990s. The charges include two murders – the 1989 killing of Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Anastassios Vernardos and the 1994 murder of policeman Apostolos Vellios – and the 1987 attempted murder of Giorgos Raftopoulos, who was then chairman of Greece’s largest labor umbrella group, the General Confederation of Greek Labor. As the charges were read out yesterday, Tsigaridas stuck to his earlier confession of group membership – until 1990 – but refused to help incriminate anyone else. The other four defendants deny any link with ELA. Agapiou, Kanas and Athanassaki have been in Korydallos prison since their arrests a year ago, while Tsigaridas was released due to poor health. Kassimis, who was freed without bail after his arrest in May, yesterday was granted permission of absence for the next few days, as he is to undergo stomach surgery in an Athens hospital today. During yesterday’s opening session, which did not attract nearly as many spectators as the March 3 opening of the N17 trial, a list of 470 prosecution and defense witnesses was read out. The main prosecution witness is Kanas’s estranged former wife.