NEWS

Chrysochoidis’s US visit

Fresh from Greece’s recent success against the domestic November 17 terrorist group, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis left on Sunday for an official two-day visit to the USA and talks with US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft, CIA Chief George Tenet and FBI Director Robert Muller. The visit is linked to several issues connected with Greece’s geographical position in a sensitive region of the world and with the globalization of crime. They include security in the broader region, given the rise in organized crime in the Balkans and Middle East, as well as terrorism. Greece has a considerable degree of influence and traditionally good relations with most of these countries; therefore, it is expected to play a central role in creating conditions of security. Moreover, in recent years, Greece has made great strides in making police cooperation agreements, especially with Balkan states, for fighting organized crime, chiefly in the trafficking of women, drugs and weapons and money laundering. Another important issue on the agenda is illegal immigration, for which Greece is one of the main transit countries and which also tops the agenda in the cooperation between European countries and is rapidly becoming a globalized phenomenon. Next month the minister will be visiting Moscow and Tehran for talks with officials there. Domestic terrorism – second phase of the investigation Breaking up the November 17 terrorist group could be viewed as a mere parenthesis within the broader investigation into domestic terrorism. The arrest of most of the group’s members and the seizure of its arsenal have not provided much evidence for the investigation into other groups. A senior police official said that forensic evidence examined so far by the Criminal Investigation Laboratory has provided a wealth of evidence against suspects already in custody, but nothing that can be used as yet against other people. Of course, the fingerprints found can only be compared with those already on record. There is still the question of the unidentified print found both (at suspected November 17 leader Alexandros Yotopoulos’s house) on the island of Leipsoi and at the November 17 safe house on Damareos Street, Pangrati, as well as a number of other unidentified prints which could prove useful in the future. During the investigation, police either confirmed or strengthened suspicions about the role played by certain people and now say with certainty that they have a clearer picture of nearly all aspects of domestic terrorism, the individuals’ involvement and the particular role they played. However, these findings still have to be supported in order to stand up in a court of law. It was while looking for such evidence in connection with November 17 that police officials confirmed that their investigation was on the right course. To further it, they are now going back to the point where they left off a few months ago, taking things from there and trying to collect evidence from within a network of procedures. Apart from the ongoing questioning of suspects, expected to bear results, attention is now being focused on suspects’ bank accounts, a process which was begun a few months ago.