N17 suspects faced with new charges

The investigation into the November 17 terrorist organization has entered a new phase and more developments are expected after the second round of municipal and regional elections next Sunday is completed. Yesterday, prosecutor Kyriakos Karoutsos, on the basis of testimony from witnesses, filed additional charges against Angeliki Sotiropoulou, Nikos Papanastassiou and Patroklos Tselentis. Sotiropoulou is the only woman among the 17 November 17 suspects in Korydallos Prison. She is being held on charges of being a member of a criminal gang, and weapons possession and procurement after a palm print was found in a hideout used by the gang. Now she faces the far more serious charges of involvement in the murder of British defense attache Stephen Saunders in June 2000, the attack on Finance Minister Ioannis Palaiokrassas (in which bystander Thanos Axarlian was killed) in July 1992 and the explosion in Piraeus last June 29 in which her former husband, Savvas Xeros, was seriously injured. The Piraeus blast led to the gang’s unraveling after its murder of 23 people in 27 years. Papanastassiou was charged with involvement in the murder of US Navy officer George Tsantes and his driver, Nikos Veloutsos, in Athens in November 1983. It was not clear what are the two new charges against Tselentis. In another development, sources said that handwriting tests had determined that the notations on a proclamation claiming the murder of shipowner Costis Peratikos in 1997 and other notes found in a gang hideout on Patmou St were written by Alexandros Yotopoulos. The alleged leader of N17 has denied involvement in the gang. The postal service (ELTA) yesterday filed a petition in an Athens magistrate’s court for the freezing of assets belonging to Sotiropoulou, Alicia Romero Cortez (Savvas Xeros’s girlfriend) and Marie-Therese Peynaud (Yotopoulos’s companion) to the value of 1.1 million euros (380 million drachmas). N17 members have admitted to robbing two ELTA branches. A protest by other prisoners at Korydallos yesterday did not affect the cell blocks in which N17 suspects are held.