Court ready for N17 appeals

Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras yesterday expressed his satisfaction after inspecting a special wing of Korydallos Prison where convicted members of the November 17 terror group are to appeal their jail sentences tomorrow under extremely tight security measures. «I am pleased that… everything has been prepared to ensure that the trial runs smoothly and the public is fully informed about the proceedings,» Papaligouras said following a tour of the courtrooms and media center in the womens’ wing of the prison on the outskirts of Athens. Fifteen members of the leftist terror group were sentenced to a combined total of thousands of years in prison following a trial conducted in the same venue in December 2003 under heavy security. The convicts are currently being held in solitary confinement in a special section of Korydallos and are allowed to exercise in a small outdoor yard covered with metal bars but are denied contact with other prisoners – conditions that have provoked protests from human rights groups as well as Synaspismos Left Coalition and the Athens Bar Association. Most of the 15 November 17 convicts will be appealing multiple life sentences tomorrow. The group’s convicted leader, Alexandros Yiotopoulos, was given 21 life sentences plus 25 years and N17’s chief assassin Dimitris Koufodinas got 13 life sentences plus 25 years. Although Yotopoulos claims there is no evidence that he led the group, few expect his, or any other N17 convict’s, sentence to be reduced. N17 killed a total of 23 people, including Greek businessmen and foreign diplomats, over the course of 27 years.