Greek guerrilla group assassin granted jail leave, triggering row

Reuters – A leading member of Greece’s most deadly guerrilla group, November 17, began a two-day leave from prison on Thursday under a parole board ruling that triggered a storm of protest from critics of the  government.

Dimitris Koufodinas is serving several life terms for his role in the November 17 terrorist group, which operated for almost three decades evading detection, before Greek authorities arrested  its leaders  in 2002.

Its targets ranged from businessmen to diplomats. Its first victim was a CIA station chief in 1975, and its last a British embassy defence attache in 2000.
Both the US and UK governments expressed their disappointment for the release through their ambassadors.

Prison authorities granted his request for temporary leave from jail on condition he report to a police station twice a day.

Conservative lawmaker Dora Bakoyannis, whose husband Pavlos Bakoyannis was gunned down by Nov. 17 in 1989, was visibly angry during a live broadcast after his release from jail.

Dimitris Papadimoulis, a member of the ruling Syriza party and European lawmaker, said a law allowing prisoners home leave was introduced by a Conservatives government, but expressed some misgivings over the timing of the convict’s leave.

In a high profile trial in 2003, 15 people, including Koufodinas, were found guilty over the 23 killings and dozens of bomb attacks claimed by the guerrilla group.

In 2013, they returned to the spotlight after another convicted member, Christodoulos Xiros, absconded while on jail leave. A conservative administration was in power at the time.

Unrepentant, he called for a ‘revolution’ against the state while on the run. He was re-arrested in 2014, after Greece offered a 1 million euro bounty for help in capturing him.

The group took its name from the date of a 1973 student uprising against the military dictatorship. It is normally marked every Nov. 17 with street protests in Athens.