The special court trying the ‘November 17’ terrorist group case on Wednesday passed down sentences on the 15 defendants convicted in the rulings announced last week, in which four other defendants were acquitted. The life penalties were in line with the sentences by bench prosecutor Christos Lambrou, while the sentences for long-term imprisonment were slightly differentiated with 2-3 year reductions on charges warranting reduced sentences.
After completion of the announcement of the sentences, the court recessed for one hour to enable Lambrou to submit his proposal for concurrent sentences.
According to the final sentences passed down on the 15 convicted ‘November 17’ members, following the calculation of concurrency, are as follows:
Alexandros Giotopoulos: 21 times life + 25 years
Dimitri Koufodinas: 13 times life + 25 years
Christodoulos Xiros: 10 times life + 25 years
Savvas Xiros: 6 times life + 25 years
Vassilis Tzortzatos: 4 times life + 25 years
Iraklis Kostaris: 1 time life + 25 years
Costas Karatsolis: 25 years
Vassilis Xiros: 25 years
Costas Telios: 25 years
Patroklos Tselentis: 25 years
Sotiris Kondylis: 25 years
Thomas Serifis: 17 years
Dionyssis Georgiadis: 9 years
Pavlos Serifis: 8 years
Nikos Papanastasiou: 8 years
The court ruled in favor of prosecutor Lambrou’s proposal for acceptance of an appeal for suspension of execution of the sentence only for Costas Telios, who will be set free on a 700 euro bond with restrictions, including prohibition from leaving the country and the requirement of appearing regularly at a police station.
The court rejected all other suspended sentence petitions.
The court further imposed fines of 21,000 euro on Alexandros Giotopoulos, 23,500 euro on Dimitri Koufodinas, 5,000 euro on Christodoulos Xiros, 23,500 euro on Savvas Xiros, 6,500 euro on Vassilis Tzortzatos, and 7,500 euro on Vassilis Xiros with respect to the bomb explosions carried out by 17N
The long-awaited trial opened Monday, March 3, at the women’s section of the Korydallos prison, near Piraeus, under stringent security measures, and adjourned on November 24, after 162 sessions.
The court proceedings were presided over by Appeals judges president Michalis Margaritis, 64, who joined the judicial corps in 1972 after receiving a degree from the Athens Law School and post-graduate studies specializing in European Law in London. The other justices sitting on the bench were appeals judges Nikolaos Zairis, 57, and Vassilis Kourkakis, 63. The prosecutor representing the State was 64-year-old appeals judge Christos Lambrou, a veteran to the judicial corps which he joined in 1969.
Prosecution witnesses numbered more than 350, among them 40 foreign nationals. Defence lawyers numbered 150, while the accused faced charges for an overall total of some 2,000 crimes.
Bench prosecutor appeals acquittal of Sotiropoulou, Yannis Serifis: Two of the defendants acquitted by court last week on charges of participation in the ‘November 17’ terrorist group are to go on trial again in the 5-member Criminal Appeals Court, after the bench prosecutor in the 17N trial filed an appeal against their acquittal.
Bench prosecutor Christos Lambrou said Wednesday that he was appealing the acquittal of Angeliki Sotiropoulou and Yannis Serifis, who were both released.
Angeliki Sotiropoulou (wife of convicted 17N top hit-man Dimitri Koufodinas and former wife of another convicted 17N hit-man, Savvas Xiros), and Yannis Serifis were found not guilty on the charge of setting up and participating in a criminal group due to doubts and were acquitted by majority vote on Dec. 8 by the special court trying the 17N case.
Sotiropoulou had further been acquitted, by majority vote, of charges of participation in the killing of British defense attache Steven Saunders, and of complicity in the incident during which a bomb exploded in Savvas Xiros’ hands in Piraeus on June 29, 2002, that resulted in the first ever arrest of a 17N suspect (Savvas Xiros) and snowballed into the arrests of a further 18 suspects.
Lambrou also appealed the acquittal of Nikos Papanastasiou, due to doubts, for involvement in the attempted murder of Robert Chad in 1984 and the murder of police guard Christos Matis at the National Bank branch in Petaluma in 1984. Papanastasiou has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for other 17N crimes.
Lambrou further appealed the acquittal of Patroklos Tselentis for involvement in the murder attempt against Robert Chad. Tselentis was sentenced to 25 years incarceration for other 17N crimes.
The government was very satisfied with the conclusion of the “November 17” trial and the way it had been conducted, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday, shortly after the sentences for the convicted terrorists were announced.
Protopapas said the trial had come to a close through highly proper procedures that had moved within the spirit of a state of law.
“Justice has been administered,” Protopapas added, noting that the culprits and moral instigators had been uncovered, the ordeal for the country was at an end and the guilty were paying for their crimes.
An official announcement issued by the US State Department on sentences imposed by a Greek court on Wednesday on members of the November 17 terrorist group expressed hope and expectation that the convicted terrorists will serve their prison sentences in their entirety.
”The Greek judicial system announced its verdict and the sentences. We hope and expect that those convicted will serve them in their entirety. Now that this chapter has reached its end, we believe it is correct and important for us to turn to the pain and drama of the victims and of their families,” the State Department’s announcement said.
State Department spokesman comments on N17 sentences: US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher, referring to sentences handed down to members of the November 17 terrorist group by an Athens court on Wednesday, said the US government hopes ”nothing will intervene to prevent the sentences from being carried out.”
Boucher avoided any comment on whether the US is examining the possibility of requesting the extradition of specific persons and replied to a relevant question by saying ”I am not in a position to make guesses on moves of a legal nature. If you want to find out what the possibilities are you should apply to the justice ministry.”
On the question of whether the imposition of the sentences closes the issue of November 17 once and for all as far as the US is concerned, Boucher referred to public statements by relevant Greek authorities according to which the completion of the trial ”does not close the book on N17. There are open investigations still.”
Replying to a question on whether the conviction of the November 17 terrorist group promotes security for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the US official said ”of course, we see as an overall positive process the investigations for November 17, the arrest of many of the leaders, the ability to try them and now, we hope, to put them in prison for a long time. But much remains to be done to safeguard security for the Olympic Games. We are working very closely with the Greeks on this.”
The trial date has been set for February 5 in the case of the actions of the Revolutionary People’s Struggle (ELA) organization. The Appeal Judges’ Council has indicted the already incarcerated and awaiting trial Aggelos Kanas, Irini Athanassaki, Costas Agapiou, Christos Tsigaridas who has been released with restraining orders and Michalis Cassimis, brother of the deceased alleged founder of the organization, Christos Cassimis. According to another order, judicial investigations of Giannis Serifis Epaminondas Skyftoulis will continue.