NEWS

‘No More’ to terrorism

Twenty-six years after terrorists created their first victim in post-dictatorship Greece, the relatives of victims of November 17 and other terrorist groups held their first public demonstration yesterday, a candlelight vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of Parliament. The demonstration was seen as part of an effort to press the November 17 gang into stopping its attacks, at a time when, sources say, the police investigation into the group is beginning to bear fruit. The sources said that the systematic investigation conducted with the help of Scotland Yard officials appears to be focusing on a wide but specific group of suspects, without this meaning that any arrests are due soon. Senior government sources said that for the first time November 17 was feeling such political pressure and that it would be feeling pressure from the police as well. Among some 160 people outside Parliament yesterday were former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis and his daughter, Dora Bakoyianni, whose husband, Pavlos, was murdered by November 17 on September 26, 1989. Also present were Bakoyiannis’s children, Alexia and Costas. Terrorism is an insult to our country and to democracy and it has to end, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said. Among other politicians was former New Democracy Finance Minister Ioannis Palaiokrassas, who narrowly escaped a November 17 rocket attack a decade ago. The informal group of relatives calls itself Os Edo, or No More, and has modeled itself on the Spanish movement Basta Ya, which opposes Basque separatists’ terrorist acts. In an open letter to the Greek people which it sent to news media, the group noted that it is 26 years since the first attack, when November 17 killed Richard Welch, the CIA’s station chief in Athens, on December 23, 1975. Since then, 42 people have been killed and many injured in attacks by terrorist groups in Greece. In all this time, the group noted, no terrorist group has been wiped out and no terrorist has been convicted. It blames a lack of political will on the part of the political parties to recognize that terrorism is a problem and that the silence of the general public has functioned as an excuse for the terrorists. The terrorists turn our silence into an excuse, the open letter said. In this way, they continue their terrorist activity without any substantial hindrance. The truth is that the merciless killers have managed to harm not only us but the country as well. Often we forget that were it not for their terrorist actions, today there would be no issue of foreign police forces being here, there would be no anti-terrorism law, no damage to our country’s image, among many other things. The letter is signed by the families of 18 victims, including that of the first (Richard Welch) and the last, British defense attache Brig. Stephen Saunders, who was killed in June 2000. Traffic police. Traffic police will be out in full force over the holiday period, the Deputy Minister of Public Order Vangelis Malesios said yesterday. Patrol cars will be stationed every 15 kilometers on major roads and traffic police squads every 20 kilometers with unmarked police cars on constant patrol. An extra lane will be opened for traffic leaving Athens before the holidays and returning to Athens in the New Year.