N17 victims lash out at group claims

The relatives of victims of November 17 yesterday issued an angry denunciation of the terrorist group and called on the public not to be swayed by the effort by some of the suspects to present themselves as being motivated by ideology. The informal group, Os Edo (in English, Up to Here, or No More), was formed at the end of last year, after 26 years in which November 17 had killed 23 people without any of its members being arrested. Today, 17 suspected members are in custody. Until a week ago, none of those who had been arrested had claimed that they were driven by political concerns. Indeed, most had confessed and expressed remorse for their actions. Last Thursday, however, the man who is suspected of being November 17’s chief of operations, Dimitris Koufodinas, surrendered to police and tried to present the group as a political movement and his own motives as ideological. It was this that prompted the reaction by Os Edo. «In a democratic state, those who murder and rob are no more than common criminals. They are murderers and robbers,» said the statement. It was read by Alexia Bakoyianni, whose father, New Democracy MP Pavlos Bakoyiannis, was murdered by November 17 in 1989. «For 27 years, the terrorists provoked our society with the murder of defenseless citizens, poisoning political life and defaming our country internationally. Now that democracy has succeeded in defending its values and principles, now that democracy can dispense justice to the perpetrators and the victims, now the murderers provoke by perverting meanings and values of our civilization,» the statement said. «Justice will judge their actions. Despite their huge arrogance and vanity, they do not have the right to another podium, other than the courtroom. We, the families of the victims, appeal to all, to journalists, politicians, artists, athletes, businessmen, trade unionists, intellectuals, to rise to the occasion. They must say, ‘No more.’» Their anger was provoked by Koufodinas, who surrendered on September 5 after more than two months on the run. He said that he had surrendered in order to «undertake the political responsibility for the actions claimed by November 17.» He spoke also of his «vision for a socialist society» and said that «for every fighter, dignity is a basic value and title of honor.» The latter comment was aimed at the other suspected comrades who had confessed and named other alleged members. It prompted at least three – the Xeros brothers – to indicate that they would recant and also try to present themselves as being motivated by politics. But perhaps the greatest anger was provoked by Koufodinas’s statement that, «For a fighter who wants a better world, human life has great value, and that is what I believe as well. I never had selfish aims and I never sought personal gain.» Os Edo commented that in the past, «because of society’s tolerance and silence, the terrorists sought political justification for the murder and slandering of their victims.» But, it added, «no ideology can be an alibi for the actions of a company of murderers. Those who kill have no respect for the value of human life. Those who slander the memory of their victims and insult their families have no dignity. Those who live and gain property through robberies are not unselfish,» it said. «Even words can lose their meaning when shameless cowards use them in the effort to justify their criminal actions and fascist mentality.» Turkish Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu had earlier threatened to take military action along the border with Iraq if Iraqi Kurds moved toward independence after any US strike that might end in the ouster of President Saddam Hussein.

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