A difficult trial

The ongoing dispute over the media coverage at the trial of the suspected November 17 terrorists and the accusations of alleged attempts to obstruct communication between the defendants and their lawyers are simply an early taste of the difficulties that are expected to beset one of Greece’s most important postwar cases – which starts today. We should not forget that this is an especially difficult trial. It is formidable when one considers the courtroom arrangements and the procedural complexity which are unavoidably caused by the large number of charges, defendants and lawyers on both sides. It is also a difficult trial in substance, as the tribunal must weigh evidence, arguments and individual responsibility and, simultaneously, turn a deaf ear to political rhetoric while cautiously handling the political arguments put forward within the courtroom. For it is the political dimension, or lack of it, that has been at the heart of public debate on the matter to date. In the course of the trial, which begins today but is expected to go on for many months, we are likely to see many legal complexities, technical difficulties and unexpected developments. Finding an answer to these will not be an easy task and not all of the answers will be welcome. And yet, each time, it is these difficult answers that will most likely determine both the public reaction outside the courtroom and, more importantly, the fate of the suspects, as we must not forget that each of the defendants has the right to a fair trial based on the true extent of his participation and his possible repentance. Faced with these existing or potential difficulties, the tribunal must equip itself with patience and calm, with cool-headed assiduity to the rules and its task, as well as with nerves of steel in order to resist the «recommendations» that are bound to be heard on all sides – either on the substance or the duration of the trial. For their part, the serious newspapers and politicians must do everything in their power to facilitate the court’s mission; they must remind people of the difficulties involved, respect the work of the judges and, finally, support a common demand – that of a fair trial in one of the most difficult cases in the history of democratic Greece.

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