N17 appeal is rejected

An appeals court yesterday upheld the convictions of 13 members of the November 17 terrorist group but quashed guilty verdicts against another two members on a legal technicality. The five judges in the specially constructed courtroom at Korydallos Prison in Athens delivered their verdicts almost 18 months after the appeal hearing began. The members of the group, which was responsible for killing 23 people between 1973 and 2002, were first convicted four years ago. Six of the terrorists had been given life sentences, including the group’s mastermind Alexandros Yotopoulos. The judges upheld the original verdict that Yotopoulos was the instigator of all of N17’s deadly attacks. «This trial was unfair, just like the original one,» said Yotopoulos. «The court based its ruling on political, not legal, reasoning.» Yotopoulos said he would appeal to the European Court of Justice. The conviction of N17’s main hit man, Dimitris Koufodinas, was also upheld. The court is set to announce on Monday whether any changes will be made to the original sentences. Nikos Papanastasiou and Pavlos Serifis were cleared because the crimes for which they had been found guilty have now fallen outside the 20-year statute of limitation. The pair had been serving eight-year prison terms but have already been paroled for health reasons. The court also decided to drop some charges against several other members of the group – Sotiris Kondilis, Vassilis Tzortzatos, Christodoulos Xeros and Thomas Serifis. Kondilis and Serifis have been sentenced to 25 and 17 years in prison, respectively, and could soon be released from jail, depending on the court’s announcement on Monday. Xeros had been handed 10 life terms but this is likely to be reduced to seven. Tzortzatos was given four life terms but this is also set to be reduced to three when the court delivers its sentencing on Monday.