ATHENS Ñ Greece has convicted the known leadership of its notorious terrorist organization that.
A special Greek court has convicted 15 members of the November 17 group,
ending a nine-month trial that traced a 30-year-old insurgency campaign in
the country. Those convicted included the leader of November 17 and its
November 17 claimed responsibility for the assassination of CIA station chief in Athens Richard Welch in 1975. November 17 had blamed the CIA for helping the military junta in Greece maintain power from 1967 to 1974.
Officials have increased security around Athens in wake of the verdicts
out of concern over retaliatory insurgency attacks, Middle East Newsline reported. Unlike Greek officials,
the U.S. intelligence community believes November 17 still operates cells in
"Terrorism has received a decisive blow," Greek government spokesman
Christos Protopapas said. "Greece is now viewed throughout the world as one
safest countries, something very significant especially in light of the
The three-judge panel convicted Alexandros Giotopoulos of 963 offenses.
Giotopoulos, a mathematician who denied any link to the Marxist group, was
identified by the court as the leader of November 17 and the mastermind of
numerous operations, including shootings and rocket strikes.
"Simitis's present day Greece is a modern U.S. colony," Giotopoulos
said. "In the long run, all the blood-drenched struggles for national
independence were sold out. The people long for something new, different,
that cannot be controlled by major capital."
Another convicted defendant was Dimitris Koufodinas, a beekeeper known
as "Poison Hand." He was identified as the chief assassin of November 17 and
convicted of nine killings. The wife of Koufodinas as well as three others
Sentencing was expected on Wednesday. Greece, which also has a
20-year statute of limitation, does not have the death sentence.
November 17 has been held responsible for the killing of 23 people since
1975. They included the assassination of a CIA station chief and a British
defense attache. Other victims included Turkish and U.S. diplomats as well
as Greek politicians and businessmen.
For decades, Greece was unable to arrest or identify November 17
operatives. In June 2002, a November 17 agent was captured after a bomb he
was preparing exploded prematurely. His arrest led to the capture of about
20 suspected operatives.