A court in Thessaloniki on Wednesday handed a convicted former member of November 17 terrorist group a five-month sentence over a fire he confessed he set inside a cell in the Diavata prison on February 2018.
Christodoulos Xiros was found guilty of aggravated damage by fire, which is a misdemeanor, but was acquitted of arson, which is a felony.
The incident happened while Xiros was being held in isolation in the disciplinary cell of the Diavata prison, in northern Greece.
Speaking in court, Xiros justified the fire as a “violent protest” which he linked with the rejection of his request to be transferred to a "proper cell" in another prison and said he was kept under “inhumane and degrading” conditions.
“I was desperate. I had no other solution. The disciplinary room is a place of punishment, not for serving a sentence,” he told the court.
He pointed to the prison’s head warden for his mistreatment, with whom he appeared to have had frequent clashes. A few months after the arson incident, and following two hunger strikes, Xiros was transferred from Diavata to Korydallos prison in Athens.
Speaking at the same trial, prison guards said no other inmates found themselves at risk from the fire, as they were all moved as soon as the alarm went off.
One prison guard said damages were limited to the bed sheets, the mattress and a table.
The trial was held under tight security with officers of the police's elite EKAM counter-terrorism unit standing inside the court room.
Xiros, who received six life sentences for his involvement in November 17, was found guilty in 2003 of taking part in 33 of the group’s attacks, including six murders.