Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
November 17 terrorist Dimitris Koufondinas, who is serving 11 life sentences for participating in 11 assassinations returned to Korydallos prison on Saturday, shortly before his 48-hour furlough expired. Koufondinas, who was escorted by his wife Angeliki Sotiropoulou and his son Ektoras, arrived at Korydallos at 10:30 where he completed the relevant procedure and was then sent to the women’s section where he is being held.
Asked by a journalist whether he intends to make use of his right for a furlough in two months’ time, as the law stipulates, he responded “Yes”.
Koufondinas – whose 48 hour – long furlough has raised both internal and international criticism – was under close police surveillance in order to avoid the repetition of a fiasco that took place in 2014, when terrorist Christodoulos Xeros didn’t return to prison following a similar furlough.
Penal law in Greece – as in all EU member countries – allows most categories of prisoners a furlough.
This is the first time Koufondinas has been allowed to leave the prison, where he has been incarcerated since the day he turned himself in to the police in 2002.
Koufodinas, who has never disavowed his actions, described them in detail in a 2014 autobiography.
Government sources told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Thursday that the decision to grant furlough was reached unanimously by the Appeals Justices’ Council and, for the first time, also had the approval of the Deputy Appeals Court Prosecutor who had previously refused.
Koufondinas had applied for a furlough several times in the past, but this had always been rejected until now. Koufodinas must report twice a day to the police station near his place of residence.
The notorious and elusive terrorist group “November 17” carried out at least 103 attacks against US, British, Turkish and Greek nationals between 1975 and 2000, killing 23 people. They also killed Greek targets, including Pavlos Bakoyannis, a journalist and politician, husband of former Athens mayor and foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and brother-in-law of current opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The American victims were Richard Welch, CIA station chief in Athens (1975); George Tsantes, a US Navy Captain executive of JUSMAGG (1983); Nikos Veloutsos, driver of the above-mentioned (1983); William Nordeen, a US Navy Captain, killed by a car bomb (1988) and Ronald O. Stewart, a US Air Force Sergeant, killed by a bomb (1991).
November 17 killed the UK embassy’s military attaché, Brigadier Stephen Saunders, on June 15, 2000. He was the group’s last victim.
The U.S. and British ambassadors to Greece criticized on Thursday a decision of Korydallos” prison council to grant a two-day furlough to terrorist group November 17’s convicted hitman Dimitris Koufondinas.
“I add my voice to those from across Greece’s political spectrum deploring prison council decision to release a convicted terrorist, murderer and 17N leader. Our democracies rest on independent judicial institutions, but today’s furlough dishonors the victims’ memory and their families,” U.S. envoy Geoffrey Pyatt said in a tweet accompanied by the names of those killed.
The view was echoed by Ambassador Kate Smith, who said she respected the decision but was “deeply disappointed” by it.
“We respect the independence of Greek Justice, but we are deeply disappointed by the decision to grant a furlough from prison to a terrorist murderer, and we share the pain caused by this decision to the families of the victims,” Smith said in a tweet.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. Embassy in Athens had conveyed significant concerns about the furlough to the Greek government.
“We would like to condemn the release of the convicted terrorist Dimitris Koufondinas, who was set loose on a two-day furlough from a Greek prison. He’s been convicted of multiple murders, including those of William Nordeen, a defense attache at the U.S. embassy, and also United States Air Force Sergeant Ronald Stewart. Our embassy in Athens has conveyed our serious concerns about this decision to the Government of Greece, and that is Dimitris Koufondinas. In the past when some of these November 17th people who have been convicted of murder have been let out on furlough in the past, they’ve disappeared, so we obviously have some concerns about that.”