Greek far-left militants on trial for bombings

The trial of eight alleged members of a prominent far-left extremist group, Revolutionary Struggle, began on Monday over a year after the principal suspects were caught.

Alleged member of the Revolutionary Struggle group and suspected terrorist Nikos Maziotis, left, is seen at the maximum security Korydallos prison, western Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. AP photo

Alleged member of the Revolutionary Struggle group and suspected terrorist Nikos Maziotis, left, is seen at the maximum security Korydallos prison, western Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. AP photo

The outfit, which appeared in 2003, was deemed by authorities here to be the country’s most dangerous far-left organisation and is on a European Union and a US list of terrorist organisations.

The United States put a bounty on the group after it fired a rocket at the US embassy in Athens in 2007 without injuring anyone. Other strikes include a bombing attack on the Athens Stock Exchange and several banks.

One of its leading members, 40-year-old veteran anarchist Nikos Maziotis, read a statement at the court inside high security Korydallos prison where he argued that politicians and bankers should be on trial instead for “robbing” society.

“This is a political trial,” Maziotis said.

The suspects include two women, one of whom — Maziotis’ 42-year-old wife Panagiota Roupa — was taken to a hospital outside prison in July 2010 to give birth to a boy.

They could face life imprisonment if convicted.

Earlier in October, Roupa had read a statement to reporters, insisting the group was “alive” and would “strike back” against the “dictatorship” of the government and creditors who have imposed austerity on Greece.

Roupa, Maziotis and fellow defendant Constantinos Gournas, 31, were recently released from prison after an 18-month maximum pre-trial detention period expired.

The case had been postponed after a new defendant, 36-year-old former civil servant Costas Katsenos, surrendered to authorities in September.

Police say they cracked the group from evidence found in the home of a 35-year-old biologist fatally shot in a firefight with officers in March 2010.

Revolutionary Struggle is considered the successor of November 17, the extremist organisation that killed 23 people between 1975 and 2000 before its demise in 2002.

In contrast to November 17, Revolutionary Struggle has not killed anyone — but came close in January 2009 when it ambushed a police patrol and seriously injured a young patrolman.

A fortnight earlier, it had also fired shots at a riot police van that missed the 23 officers on board.

The group said it had fired on police to avenge the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy by a patrolman in December 2008, an event that sparked serious youth riots around the country at the time.

The outfit had in 2006 also exploded a bomb near the home of Greece’s then public order minister George Voulgarakis, later claiming it wanted to “execute” him as he drove to work.

Monday, October 24, 2011
ATHENS – Ajans France Presse