Court proves itself

The skepticism and distrust on all sides regarding the publicity of the much-awaited trial of the suspected members of the November 17 terrorist group proved completely groundless as the proceedings started yesterday. From the early morning hours until after midnight, dozens of television channels – without even having any footage from inside the courtroom – and hordes of journalists from the electronic media overwhelmed the public with trivialities, creating an information overload that had no subject. By contrast, the trial’s opening procedures demonstrated that the tribunal, in its determination to clear up the case, has no intention whatsoever of covering up any supposedly controversial points of the legal process. Furthermore, by meeting the defendants’ request to remove the bulletproof cage shielding them, the judges showed they possess the requisite open-mindedness and flexibility to ease off when necessary and to avert the possible inflation of subordinate matters or trivial details into major political issues concealing dark purposes. Setting aside the unavoidable tension, the sensationalist legalistic tiffs and futile confrontations of the first few days, it would be most welcome if the participants in the trial, the media and society as a whole actually focused on the substance. Essential as some procedural issues may sometimes be, they are still subordinate to the quest for the truth about the activity of the terrorist group that plagued Greek society for more than a quarter of a century. The significance of this trial – and, in a sense, its place in history – will not be decided by what or how much of it will be aired on television or the radio but by whether it will prove the guilt of the suspects, whether it will cast light on their activities and contacts, whether it will reveal accomplices that have been unknown to date, or whether it will provide sufficient evidence that there remain no elusive members. Prejudice is inevitable in cases that carry political baggage and which are bound to attract the interest of the overwhelming majority of citizens. The tribunal would offer precious service to Greek society if it managed to try the case in such a way as to persuade well-disposed as well as skeptical people that the verdict is fair and that the trial has shed full light on all aspects of this turbulent and murky case.

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