NEWS

Serifis terror charge

Yiannis Serifis, a long-time suspect of terrorist activity, will appear on Sunday before a prosecutor to answer charges related to membership in the November 17 terrorist gang, sources said yesterday. Prosecutor Leonidas Zervobeakos charged Serifis on Tuesday, based on the testimony of three jailed terrorist suspects, the brothers Savvas and Christodoulos Xeros and Pavlos Serifis, a cousin of Yiannis’s. A nephew of Yiannis Serifis, Thomas Serifis, has also been accused of being a November 17 member and jailed. The 64-year-old Serifis is the 18th person charged with membership in November 17. The other 17, including one woman, have been jailed at Korydallos Prison. Savvas Xeros, the terrorist whose botched attempt to plant a bomb last June 29, in which he was severely wounded, has identified Serifis as the founding «deputy leader» of November 17, in 1974-1975 and named him as the person who recruited his older brother Christodoulos, in 1983. Pavlos Serifis has gone further, identifying his older cousin as an active participant in November 17’s initial strike, the murder of CIA station chief Richard Welch in December 1975. Both Pavlos Serifis and Savvas Xeros have said that Yiannis Serifis had quit the terrorist gang at one point, in disagreement with its assassinations policy. Persistent rumors had called Serifis one of the heads of ELA (Revolutionary Popular Struggle), another terrorist organization, which planted several bombs but did not conduct assassinations. Police forces have established that ELA and November 17, along with other organizations, had overlapping memberships. This is not Yiannis Serifis’s first brush with the law. In 1977, he was accused of taking part in an exchange of fire with police during which Christos Kassimis, the first identified Greek terrorist, was killed. Serifis had been acquitted of the charge and has assumed a high profile as an extreme-left militant and unionist who claims he opposes armed insurrection and has steadfastly denied the charges against him. A statute of limitations means that no one can be charged for Welch’s murder; however, membership in a terrorist organization is not covered by the statute. Two other N17 suspects, both jailed, Vassilis Tzortzatos and Theologos Psaradellis, will appear before the prosecutor tomorrow to answer extra charges.