Former dictator Ioannidis dies at 87

One of the last surviving key figures in the military junta that ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974 and which triggered the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Dimitrios Ioannidis, died yesterday at the age of 87. Ioannidis, who was jailed for life for his part in the dictatorship, had been transferred from his cell at Korydallos Prison to an Athens hospital after experiencing problems breathing on Sunday. In 1967, he had played a prominent role alongside Georgios Papadopoulos, Stylianos Pattakos and Nikolaos Makarezos in toppling the government and installing an ultraconservative regime that was led by Papadopoulos, a colonel. As a brigadier, Ioannidis was head of the notorious ESA military police that was responsible for imprisoning, exiling and torturing thousands of political dissidents during the dictatorship. When Papadopoulos attempted to introduce some piecemeal democratic reforms following the bloody crushing of a student uprising on November 17, 1973, Ioannidis led a group of army hardliners that overthrew the colonel and installed a tougher regime, which was only to last eight months. It was during this period that Ioannidis earned the nickname «the invisible dictator.» Despite installing a president and prime minister, the brigadier retained control of the government. Disastrously, his regime overthrew Archbishop Makarios’s government on Cyprus in July 1974, paving the way for the Turkish invasion of the island, which led to the northern part being occupied to this day. Ioannidis’s dictatorship fell in the summer of 1974 and he was tried for high treason. Papadopoulos died in 1999, Makarezos last year. Pattakos, who was released from jail in 1990 for health reasons, is still alive.