Alleged N17 co-founder Serifis jailed

Yiannis Serifis on Sunday became the 18th suspected member of terrorist gang November 17 to be charged and incarcerated in Athens’s Korydallos Prison. The 64-year-old Serifis has been accused in the past of membership in the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), another terrorist organization which, police believe, is affiliated to November 17. «They do not possess any evidence against me and they are not going to find any… they are trying (to lay charges) based on suspects’ ‘confessions’ which were extracted who knows under which circumstances. It is not a coincidence that the moment the doors of the CIA and the FBI are opening to welcome the public order minister, the prosecutor’s door opens for this industrial worker, who has refused to compromise in his 40-year struggle,» a defiant Serifis said just before his meeting with the prosecutor. Serifis has been named as one of the founders of November 17 by at least two suspects: Savvas Xeros, the terrorist whose serious injury during a botched bombing attempt on June 29 provided the crucial opening for authorities after 27 years of fruitless pursuit, and Pavlos Serifis, Yiannis Serifis’s cousin. Both said that Yiannis Serifis left November 17 at some point, before 1983, disagreeing with its tactics. Pavlos Serifis’s testimony places Yiannis Serifis at the scene of November 17’s first crime, the murder of CIA station chief Richard Welch on December 23, 1975. Serifis’s lawyer, Spyros Fotakis, said the period when his client was said to be a member of November 17, falls outside the 20-year statute of limitations. According to Greece’s anti-terror law, however, the statute applies to the specific crimes committed but not to membership in a terror group. Serifis had his first run-in with the law in 1977, when he was accused of taking part in a terrorist attack on a German company. The attack had ended in a shoot-out with police and the death of the first identified Greek terrorist, Christos Kassimis. Serifis was charged with murdering Kassimis, presumably to prevent him from falling into the hands of the police. He was acquitted of the charge two years later. During that period, several left-wing groups, including members of the now-ruling Socialist party, PASOK, had come to Serifis’s defense. When the Socialists gained power in 1981, Serifis was hired by the state-owned Athens-Piraeus electrical railway company (ISAP), where he became a union activist. He was named as a possible suspect in the assassination attempt on Giorgos Raftopoulos, then president of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), in 1987, but Serifis had an alibi as to his whereabouts.