ATHENS Ñ Greece's largest counter-insurgency trial has centered on
the alleged leader of the November 17 group.
The prosecution has charged Alexandros Giotopoulos with 1,000 offenses
as the alleged leader of November 17. This includes every attack attributed
to the group as well as being an accessory in six killings.
The prosecution began the trial on Monday by presenting a witness list
of 333 people, 40 of them foreign nationals, Middle East Newsline reported. The defense plans to call 70
witnesses. The trial is not being covered by live radio or television.
"The dismantling of November 17 is a great national success," Greek
government spokesman Christos Protopapas said. "It proves that democracy
gives its own answers to violence, fanaticism, and phenomena that breed
If convicted, most of the defendants face life in prison. Some of the
attacks attributed to November 17, such as the 1975 assassination of CIA
station chief Richard Welch, are not included in the indictment because
Greece has a 20-year statute of limitations.
Giotopoulos has been indicted on 1,000 counts. They include involvement
in murder, attempted murder, a bombing attack and attempted bombing as well
as two robberies. Giotopoulos has denied the charges.
Another November 17 figure, Dimitris Koufontinas, has been charged with
84 counts and Savvas Xeros, regarded as the group's leading assassin, with
78 counts. Both men are accused of being responsible for most of the
killings by November 17.
The trial of 19 defendants is expected to disclose new details of the
campaign in Greece by November 17. The group is said have been responsible
for more than 100 attacks since 1975, including bombings and assassinations
of British, Turkish and U.S. diplomats.
Families of the victims are hoping the trial will discuss the failure of
Greek authorities to arrest any November 17 suspect until July 2002. Greek
parliamentarian Alexandros Lykourezos has intimated that November 17 could
have enjoyed protection from sympathizers within Greece's left-wing
"I think the question of why nothing happened for 27 years needs to be
investigated, to find out if there are people responsible for that,"
Some Greek analysts believe the arrests of November 17 suspects was
motivated by the Olympic Games in Athens scheduled for 2004. The analysts
said Greek leaders had concluded that without a strong public effort against
terrorism many countries would stay away from the Olympic Games.