NEWS

Police comb Aegina for sympathizers’

With November 17’s operational core in Korydallos Prison, anti-terrorism police are combing the island of Aegina to establish any contacts that alleged senior operative Dimitris Koufodinas may have had there in the weeks before his surrender last Thursday. Koufodinas appears to have camped on a beach frequently used by nudists on the small island of Angistri, just a 10-minute boat ride from Aegina, from mid-July until his surrender at police headquarters on September 5. But police have turned their attention to Aegina to learn details of Koufodinas’s stay on Angistri. Aegina is a larger island in the Saronic Gulf, about 45 minutes from Piraeus by hydrofoil. «Dimitris Koufodinas did not choose the island by chance,» a senior police official said, referring to Angistri’s proximity to Aegina, which, in turn, «is not an innocent island.» According to sources, when police spoke in recent weeks about a «network» helping Koufodinas evade arrest after he disappeared on June 29, they were referring to a specific group of people who, in one way or another, were linked to Aegina. These people are believed to have helped Koufodinas during his stay on Angistri. The sources said that on several occasions, Koufodinas had been conveyed to Aegina by speedboat in the middle of the night. Officers are trying to discover what he did on Aegina and whom he met. Furthermore, residents of Angistri who realized after Koufodinas’s arrest that he was the man who had been camping on the remote Halikiada beach said that three or four other people had pitched two tents near the one used by Koufodinas. Police are now trying to determine whether this was a coincidence or whether the others were a support team. The police leadership believes that several members of the «political wing» of domestic terrorism provided assistance to Koufodinas. These are people who chose not to join the urban guerrilla groups Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) and November 17 when these were set up in 1975 but remained sympathetic to their old friends, forming a makeshift «network» which would sometimes help their more active friends. According to police, many of these people built homes on Aegina. In 1996, sources say, an Italian-Swiss woman, who is said to have worked as a «courier» for terrorist groups in the 1970s carrying explosives for groups such as Germany’s RAF, Italy’s Red Brigades and France’s Action Directe, was seen on the island. She was located by police in 1998 and left Aegina, but was later traced to the northern suburbs of Athens. Officers believe Koufodinas surrendered because the «network» and its members were unable to withstand police pressure.