A caller claiming to be a member of the Revolutionary Nuclei organization called Alter television to say the group was responsible for a blast at a branch of the Commercial Bank (Emporiki) on the corner of Thivon and Saggariou streets in western Athens early on Friday. Someone smashed the bank windows with rocks and threw petrol bombs into the bank at around 2 a.m., causing a fire that also seriously damaged a car parked outside the bank.
On July 11, the bomb squad carried out a controlled explosion of a bomb outside the Alico insurance company on the centrally located Michalakopoulou Street. No group claimed responsibility for the blast; but the explosives used were similar to those used in other acts by Revolutionary Nuclei, raising fears of further such activity.
No one was hurt when the bomb was destroyed by controlled explosion. Police said the five-page statement, sent to an Athens newspaper, resembled proclamations issued by the disbanded Greek terrorist organization November 17, whose alleged members are currently on trial.
In the statement, the group said it would not carry out attacks during the Olympic Games. But the possible resurgence of far-left urban guerrilla groups would unsettle Greek authorities who said they had defeated domestic terrorism after a crackdown last year on November 17.
On Friday, a police car and bank branch were damaged in arson attacks believed to be carried out by anarchist gangs, also out of solidarity with November 17. Nineteen suspects are on trial for the terror group’s 23 killings, armed robberies and scores of bomb attacks, primarily against U.S. targets. November 17 emerged in 1975 with the assassination of the CIA station chief in Athens, a year after the collapse of a seven-year dictatorship that had received American assistance.
The guerrilla group eluded police for decades, despite strong pressure from the United States and other targeted countries, but was finally exposed as the result of a bungled bomb attack last year.
Police said Friday’s statement, sent to the Athens daily Eleftherotypia, was written on a computer and that each page bore a red five-point star, a symbol used by November 17.
The wiring of explosives used in the attempted July 11 bombing also resembled methods used by November 17, investigation sources said. In its statement, the group lashed out at Greece’s ministers of foreign affairs, justice and public order, calling them “servants of American interests.”
It also criticized the presiding judge in the November 17 trial, calling him a “theatre director.”
Savvas Xeros, the self-confessed November 17 operative whose serious injury by a bomb he was carrying in Piraeus on June 29, 2002 gave police their first big break, told the court Friday that it was not he but the confessions of “another Savvas” that had resulted in 19 suspects standing trial in Korydallos Prison.
He was the second defendant to take the witness stand, following Dimitris Koufodinas, who presented the court with a manifesto but no information regarding the workings and membership of November 17. Koufodinas, a beekeeper, is married to Xeros’ first wife, Angeliki Sotiropoulou, the only woman defendant. Two of his brothers are also on trial.
Prosecutor Christos Lambrou commented: “Savvas is in a difficult situation; that’s why he says what he says. He regrets what he said while at Evangelismos.” He attributed Xeros’s change to the hard line take by Koufodinas after he gave himself up and claimed political responsibility for November 17 but refused to provide any information. Lambrou said Xeros’ mind had functioned well while in the hospital.
“If only he had taken society’s side and condemned violence. If anyone can claim extenuating circumstances it is he, but he did not help me,” he said.
Xeros said he did not know alleged leader Alexandros Yotopoulos, despite his earlier confessions.