Reading the indictment

The trial of the suspected members of the November 17 terrorist gang was expected to arouse passions as it got under way. It was expected to provoke heated debate between those who claim N17’s crimes were politically motivated (and therefore, to be tried by a court of judges and jurors) and those who see murder and robbery as common crimes that should be tried by the three-judge court now hearing the case. But this key issue still has to be discussed. The first three days were taken up with the reading of the indictments against the 19 defendants, their objections to the bulletproof glass enclosure protecting them on three sides (which has been dismantled), and the debate as to whether there should be live television coverage (the court will rule today). All this was expected. But, out of the blue, as if itching for a fight in which it could show its left-wing credentials, the government created the biggest political fracas surrounding the trial so far. It seized upon a comment by US Ambassador Thomas Miller to present him as questioning the success of the fight against terrorism and, therefore, both interfering in a domestic issue and contradicting earlier praise of the authorities’ success. What Miller told The New York Times on Monday regarding the defendants was: «My sense is that they represent the bulk of the operational element of the organization.» Instead of provoking an incident, Miller should have been accused only of stating what many others have said and what investigators believe. Because the indictment itself reads: «Alexandros Yotopoulos, Yiannis Serifis, Pavlos Serifis, Nikolaos Papanastasiou, Theologos Psaradellis and other persons still not known to investigators established the criminal organization of N17 and the other accused joined it.» At this highly charged time it will be best if all the talking is limited to the courtroom.

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