Court clears all six in ELA trial

An Athens appeals court yesterday cleared four convicted and two suspected members of the extreme left-wing terrorist group Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) of being involved in a 10-year bombing campaign which killed two people. The «not guilty» verdict for Christos Tsigaridas, 65, Costas Agapiou, 57, Angeletos Kanas, 53 and Irini Athanassaki, 49, came as a surprise as they were sentenced to 25 years each last October for a string of ELA attacks on mainly police and US-linked targets since the mid-1970s. But they had not faced charges for 10 bombings from 1985 to 1995, when the group disbanded. In 1994, police officer Apostolos Vellios was killed in one of these attacks. Since they have been cleared of involvement in the attacks, there are now questions about the original convictions and whether there are other ELA members still at large. Civil servant Michalis Kassimis, 59, who was acquitted of involvement in ELA in the first trial, and veteran trade unionist Yiannis Serifis, 67, who was cleared of November 17 membership in 2003, were also found innocent yesterday as the five-month trial came to an end. Serifis was found unanimously innocent by the three-judge court of involvement in the killing of the police officer. All three justices also ruled Kassimis was not guilty of involvement in the group or the bombings. The other four, however, were declared innocent by a majority decision. Tsigaridas, who was released in January from prison on grounds of ill health, praised the judges for not giving in to «the relentless pressure from domestic and foreign supporters of the war on terrorism.» Tsigaridas has always denied any operational role in ELA’s attacks. The other three members of ELA returned to their cells to serve the remainder of their sentences for the original convictions. However, Kanas’s lawyer said he would be submitting an appeal for his client to be released on the basis that his original conviction came as a result of his being framed.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.