N17 woman suspect released

Angeliki Sotiropoulou, the first woman arrested on suspicion of being a member of November 17, was released early yesterday after a prosecutor and the investigating judge disagreed over whether she should be jailed pending trial. Sotiropoulou had testified for six hours, until after midnight. In their first disagreement, prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos said she should be jailed as she might to try to escape, while appeals court judge Leonidas Zervobeakos said he did not think the 40-year-old, who is the mother of a 12-year-old boy, would try to flee. A three-member council of appeal court judges is to decide in the next few days whether Sotiropoulou should join 16 suspects in Korydallos Prison. The latter include her former husband, Savvas Xeros, and companion of the last 13 years, Dimitris Koufodinas. Police say that they found Sotiropoulou’s fingerprints on a doorframe in a hideout used by November 17. She is charged with membership in a criminal organization and of complicity in procuring and possessing weapons and explosives. She denies everything. Her lawyer, Gianna Kourtovic, claimed, «The basic evidence against her is not the fingerprint but her personal relationship (with Koufodinas).» Meanwhile, the Supreme Court prosecutor, Evangelos Kroustallakis, responded yesterday to claims by Savvas Xeros that he had been given an unspecified drug that caused him to feel fear while he was being treated at Evangelismos Hospital. Xeros’s confessions set off a chain of arrests that destroyed the hitherto impenetrable gang. Xeros, a 40-year-old icon painter, made his claims in telephone interviews with Alpha Channel reporter Makis Triandafyllopoulos on Saturday and Sunday. He and two of his brothers, Christodoulos and Vassilis, had confessed in July to being members of November 17 and had expressed remorse for their actions. None had said earlier that their statements had been coerced nor had claimed that their actions were political. This changed after Koufodinas, the gang’s suspected chief of operations who surrendered on September 5, said his actions had been driven by «political motives» and refused to tell the authorities anything further. «The preliminary investigation into terrorism was carried out, in all its stages, in accordance with current principles of jurisprudence, with respect for the rights of the defendants and the law,» Supreme Court prosecutor Evangelos Kroustallakis said in a statement. «The main investigation is now being conducted by an appeals court judge. The substance of the matter will be judged by the competent judicial authorities, the Council of Appeals Court Judges and the Appeals Court. I find it self-evident that, without exception, we must all leave Justice to judge the whole issue calmly and without being affected, as ought to be done in a democratic society.» The government spokesman, Christos Protopappas, said: «The government has no reason to enter into dialogue with defendants accused of terrorist activity. Anyhow, the investigation is moving ahead with full transparency, full adherence to principles and laws, with great faith in democracy and a state run by law, under the supervision of the competent judicial authorities.»

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