NEWS

Xeros brother ‘man of religion’

As a fourth son of an Athens priest was charged yesterday with participation in November 17, the government said yesterday that trials of the suspected left-wing terrorists could start early next year – long before the 18-month legal pre-trial detention limit expires. Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos told journalists that «it is feasible to start the [November 17] trials in the first few months of 2003.» This would be no more than nine months after the groundbreaking arrest of the first November 17 suspect, 40-year-old icon-painter Savvas Xeros. «There is no cause for concern over the 18-month limit,» Petsalnikos said. Two of the other 17 people arrested over the ensuing months were brothers of Xeros – while the only detained female N17 suspect is the mother of his son. Yesterday, yet another of Athens priest Triandaphyllos Xeros’s sons was charged with participation in the group that killed 22 people since 1975. Carpenter Avgoustinos Xeros, 32, was given until tomorrow to prepare his testimony in connection with charges of group membership and possession of weapons, but was not remanded in custody. In a draft of his testimony leaked to the press yesterday, Xeros protested his innocence. «I have done nothing, and have nothing to fear,» he said. «It will help me spiritually if I am remanded pending trial. I am a man of religion, a church elder in my village, and visit Mount Athos every year.» Avgoustinos Xeros was charged after his fingerprints were found on forged car number plates and urban warfare textbooks in N17’s Patmou St safehouse in Athens. He claims he has never been there. Yesterday, Petsalnikos also heralded draft legislation «in the next few weeks,» to regulate the terms under which TV and radio coverage of trials may take place.