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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-07-22

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

July 22, 2002


  • [01] Three men connected with N17 imprisoned
  • [02] Greek Embassy in Washington responds to 'Denver Post' editorial on July 10th
  • [03] U.S. Ambassador to Athens addresses AHEPA dinner in New York
  • [04] Greek foreign ministry spokesman gives interview to Cypriot newspaper
  • [05] Israeli, Palestinian officials endorse political settlement of Mideast problem
  • [06] Health minister visits hospitals in Tripoli
  • [07] Tsovolas vs. airport: DHKKI leader misses flight after refusing body search
  • [08] UK producer says Britons support return of Parthenon Marbles
  • [09] Memorials and rallies mark invasion anniversary
  • [10] Giannitsis assures Greece will continue to support Cyprus

  • [01] Three men connected with N17 imprisoned

    Athens, 22/07/2002 (ANA)

    Three men who testified before an Athens investigating magistrate on Sunday in connection with their involvement in the November 17 terrorist group, have been imprisoned.

    Christodoulos Xiros, his brother Vassilis Xiros and Dionysis Georgiadis, were taken on Sunday night to the Athens Police Headquarters while it is likely that they will be transported to specially transformed cells at Korydallos prison on Monday.

    According to reliable sources, the two Xiros brothers testified before investigating magistrate Theoni Bouri without the presence of a lawyer, while Georgiadis was represented by lawyer Alexandros Karamanolis.

    Georgiadis' lawyer said the young man accepted the charges that he participated in the urban guerrilla group and that he was involved in a bomb attack on a bank, but denies his involvement in a series of robberies.

    Karamanolis said Georgiadis ''out of childish stupidity followed the Xiros brothers and someone by the name of Loukas because he felt an obligation to them because they helped him. However, when he understood that he was in the yard of November 17, he tried to leave but he received threats that if he opened his mouth his life and that of his family's would be in danger.''

    Suspect confesses to 17N armed robberies, second one denies all charges: One of the two men arrested Saturday by the counter-terrorism squad in the ongoing investigation on the 'November 17' terrorist group has confessed to a series of armed robberies, including arms from a military depot in 1989, while the other has denied any involvement with the group but investigation evidence and testimonies by other suspects implicate him in several armed robberies and shootings, police said on Sunday.

    Police on Saturday arrested Costas Karatsolis, 36, a resident of Neo Iraklion in Attica and Iraklis Kostaris, 37, a resident of the Athens district of Galatsi, were picked up Saturday in Thesprotia and Preveza and flown in by army helicopter to the counter-terrorism squad's headquarters in Athens for questioning.

    Greek Police spokesman Lefteris Economou said Sunday that Karatsolis has confessed to taking part in the armed robbery of weapons from a police station in the Athens residential district of Vyronas in August 1988, the theft of arms and ammunition, including rockets, from the Sykourio military camp depot in Larissa in December 1989, the robbery of an ELTA postal bureau office in Vyronas in January 1997, and the armed robbery of a money delivery van at the OTE Hellenic Telecoms office on Patission avenue in Athens in April 2002.

    Kostaris, a friend of Karatsolis, has denied any accusations, but evidence arising from the investigation into the urban guerrilla group and testimonies by other accused members of the group indicate that Kostaris recruited Karatsolis into the organization and gave him the pseudonym 'Stelios'.

    Investigation evidence and testimonies have also implicated Kostaris in the Vyronas police station robbery in August 1988, the attempted killing of ruling PASOK former public order minister and MP George Petsos by booby-trapped car in May 1989 in Psychico, the murder of main opposition New Democracy MP Pavlos Bakoyiannis in September 1989 in Kolonaki, the Sykourio robbery in 1989, the attempted murder by rocket attack on businessman Vardis Vardinoyiannis in November 1989 in Ekali, the fatal injury of US serviceman Ronald Stewart by booby-trapped car in March 1991 in Ano Glyfada, the Vyronas ELTA robbery in 1997, the killing of shipowner Costis Peraticos in Piraeus in May 1997, the killing of British military attache Stephen Saunders in June 2000 on Kifissias avenue in Filothei, the armed robbery of the OTE money delivery van on Patission avenue in 2992 and a similar robbery of another OTE money delivery van in Piraeus in May 2001.

    Charges against the two for the above crimes were set by prosecutor Elias Kolousis.

    Karatsolis and Kostaris were taken before investigating magistrate Theoni Bouri later Sunday, where they requested and received an extension for Thursday afternoon in order to prepare their defense.

    Both men are tentatively represented by defense lawyer Ioannis Stamoulis, who said he had not been briefed yet on the charge sheets, but after speaking with his two clients no conflict of interests had arisen.

    Stamoulis explained that if, after reviewing the evidence in the cases, it was ascertained that a different line of defense needed to be taken for the two men, they would cease to be represented by the same lawyer.

    Another person brought in for questioning in connection with N17: Another person was brought in for questioning at the offices of the Anti-Terrorism Squad in Athens on Sunday in connection with the November 17 terrorist group.

    According to reliable sources the man, identified as Makis Serifis, was picked up by the police in the village of Morfio in Thesprotia.

    The sources said Makis Serifis is a relative of Yiannis Serifis, known from the 1970s when he was charged for participation in the Revolutionary Popular Struggle but was acquitted.

    Makis Serifis is a relative and of the same village of Iraklis Kostaris who was arrested on Saturday and appeared before the public prosecutor on Sunday along with his friend Constantinos Karatsolis.

    It has not yet been clarified whether there is evidence implicating him in the urban guerrilla group.

    Giotopoulos, accused as N17 leader, hires defense lawyer: Alexandros Giotopoulos, currently being held by police as the suspected leader of the terrorist organization November 17, has asked the lawyer Yiannis Rahiotis to defend him, sources said on Saturday.

    Rahiotis has spoken with the 58-year-old Giotopoulos, who he says continues to deny all involvement in the urban guerrilla group, though other suspected members have named him as the group's leader.

    Meanwhile, public prosecutor Ioannis Diotis has apparently resumed taking testimony from the first suspected member of the group captured by police, Savvas Xiros.

    Xiros is currently in hospital recovering from severe injuries to his eyes and hand, incurred in a botched bomb attack that led to his capture.

    The prosecutor had stopped taking testimony from Savvas Xiros a week ago so that he could undergo an eye operation.

    Police bring Giotopoulos' wife in for new round of questioning: The wife of suspected November 17 leader Alexandros Giotopoulos, 48-year-old French national Marie-Therese Peynaud, was called in for questioning for a second time by the anti-terrorism squad on Saturday morning.

    The woman was still being interrogated until well after noon, though police did not say whether she would then be released or kept in custody.

    According to press sources, meanwhile, the authorities are preparing to make at least four more arrests in connection with November 17 on Monday.

    A broken Father Xiros admits sons' guilt: 'I prayed for the truth, God answered': ''All these days I prayed for God to reveal the truth, to reveal the guilty. And God worked his miracle ... The truth is out, the guilty have been uncovered and I am glad, even if they are my own children.''

    This stunning confession was made to the press on Saturday by Father Triantafyllos Xiros, the elderly Orthodox priest whose world was torn apart in the past two weeks after three of his sons were arrested and confessed to being part of the bloodstained terrorist group November 17, which has claimed the lives of 23 people in the past three decades.

    ''Whoever has done something should pay. And they will pay. Either here or in the next life. It is better to pay here and go clean before God.

    ''My children and all the rest of that group wanted to change the world with bombs. And they are a large group that includes some very important people. They will all be uncovered and they will all pay. Society cannot be changed with bombs or through wars but only when you are near God and the Church. My children made the mistake of turning their backs on the Church. Savvas paid for this dearly,'' Father Xiros, now a tragic figure, continued.

    Savvas Xiros, the suspected terrorist that was injured in a botched bomb attack and gave police their much-needed breakthrough in order to break open the group, is now in hospital recovering from severe injuries to his hands and his eye.

    According to his father, Savvas has repented and turned back to God, hoping to lead a Christian life from now on.

    In an interview with British reporters on Friday, Father Xiros had asked the forgiveness of Heather Saunders, the widow of Brigadier Stephen Saunders who was murdered by N17, and said he prayed that God would give her the strength to continue her life.

    [02] Greek Embassy in Washington responds to 'Denver Post' editorial on July 10th

    WASHINGTON, 22/07/2002 (ANA A. Ellis)

    An article appearing in the US newspaper ''Denver Post'' that sought to downplay the role of the Greek police in the recent capture of suspected members of the terrorist group ''November 17'' prompted a reaction from the Greek Embassy in Washington on Saturday.

    In a letter to the newspaper, the Embassy's press office director Achilles Paparsenos underlined that the results were achieved through systematic, low-key and professional work in recent years, in conjunction with the new anti-terrorism bill, a public information campaign and cooperation with US, British and other law enforcement agencies.

    He also stressed that all the political forces in Greece and the Greek people were united in their determination to eradicate the ''scourge'' that had taken innocent lives over the past 27 years.

    With regard to the Olympic Games in 2004, Paparsenos stressed that security was a top priority for the organizers and the Greek government, which is spending more than $600 million on a plan constantly upgraded with the help of a seven-country advisory group.

    [03] U.S. Ambassador to Athens addresses AHEPA dinner in New York

    NEW YORK, 22/07/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    US. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller addressed the official dinner hosted by the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) at the close of its 80th conference on Saturday night.

    Miller's speech focused on the continuing struggle for the combatting of international terrorism with the close cooperation of Greece, the developments for the break up of the November 17 terrorist group, the development of U.S.-Greece economic relations, Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus issue and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    ''Our cooperation with Greece for the combatting of international terrorism is excellent. Greece has answered positively to every request we submitted following September 11. Not simply with the expression of condolences, but with active support. For example, after September 11, Greece received the request for the landing of American planes in the base of Souda, in Crete, for the planes, which were taking part in the operation in Afghanistan. Greece sent one frigate with 130 sailors to participate in the naval force which now patrols the Arabian Sea,'' Miller said.

    The U.S. ambassador said ''the November 17, one of the most cowardly and hated terrorist groups on the face of the earth and naturally in Europe, has started to disintegrate. It involves a lengthy procedure. It is not simply an issue of questionings and arrests. Greece, like the U.S., is a country, which respects the laws, and the terrorists must account and be convicted in accordance with the laws. And this will take time. This is why I ask you to show patience".

    ''Let us give congratulations where it is deserved, to the authorities of Greece. We also saw an incredible change in public opinion. Some years ago, this group was regarded by some like a romantic version of Robin Hood of the Left. Now it is regarded for what it really is, a group of terrorists, common criminals and thieves. This happened because the people got to know the face of the victims of the terrorists and their families who grieved for their loss," he said.

    ''It is indeed a great success of Greece. And psychologically I have observed an incredible change: The Greeks now feel much better about themselves. And not only because they managed this success by themselves (we are joyful that we also contributed). Allow me to stress again that the success belongs to the Greek police,'' Miller said.

    On U.S.-Greece trade relations, the ambassador said ''there is a rise in the balance of trade with Greece which increased by 30% in the period 1999-2001. Now the ratio is 2 to 1. The greatest part concerns the defense sector. As a NATO member, we want to be certain that that Greece has the best infrastructures in the defense sector. This year alone we have made sales which surpass half a billion dollars in defense equipment.''

    He added that relations between Greece and Turkey have developed and there was no longer tension. A climate of excellent cooperation prevails. In the past, as coordinator for the Cyprus issue, I tried to bring the two sides closer. Now progress has been achieved. A serious dialogue is being held. The only way for a lasting solution of the Cyprus issue is through the procedure of dialogue. We are doing whatever we can to support this procedure and the United Nations. I do not forget that tomorrow is the anniversary (of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus).''

    Speaking on the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Miller noted that ''Greece is the second smallest country which hosts Olympic Games and the smallest economy which dares do such a thing. It is a great challenge. We must help Greece have safe Games. Along with England, France, Germany, Australia, Spain and Israel, we have created a team aimed at advising Greece on the issue of the security of the Games.''

    Concluding, Ambassador Miller spoke on Greece's protagonist role in the world scene and as a regional factor. He noted that Greece will assume the presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2003 and plans to bring back to the forefront the Balkans and the problems which the region is facing ''so that the Balkans do not become again a center of ethnic cleansing.''

    Archbishop Demetrios meets US ambassador: US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller had a one-hour meeting with Orthodox Archbishop of America Demetrios late on Friday evening for talks ''on a range of issues''.

    At the end of the meeting Miller said he ''left wiser and better informed'' and expressed hope that he would meet Demetrios again in Athens.

    The Archbishop described Miller as a ''very good friend of Greece and the Greek people,'' who had contributed greatly to promoting friendship between Greece and the US. He said his talks with the US diplomat had been extremely interesting and very informative.

    [04] Greek foreign ministry spokesman gives interview to Cypriot newspaper

    NICOSIA, 22/07/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    In an interview published on Sunday in Cyprus' newspaper ''Fileleftheros'', Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said that the period leading up to the Turkish elections will create a problem in Turkey in the taking of necessary decisions.

    At the same time, Beglitis views that the prolonged election campaign suspends or operates negatively for the political, economic and social reforms which Turkey has committed itself in doing within the context of its European prospects.

    The foreign ministry spokesman noted that he did not expect that Turkey would export the crisis.

    He explained that ''all the margins which the establishment or the extreme forces in Turkey could utilize to proceed in a crisis either in Cyprus or against Greece have been restricted to a significant degree.'' This however, he said, ''does not mean that we must not be ready for every eventuality. And we are ready for all.''

    The decisions of the Turkish people as well as of the citizens of any other country are respected, Beglitis said, adding that ''what we must stress is that during this period Turkey's political strategies are at an impasse".

    The impasse of Turkish policies in the past 28 years is seen in the Cyprus issue, he said, adding that ''what we must stress in particular is that with the policy which we have followed in Helsinki and in the policy which we followed after this EU summit, we essentially contributed in pushing forward in Turkey all those forces which are orientating themselves towards Europe.''

    Beglitis said that if Turkey wants to be a European country, if it wants to proceed on the European road, it must follow the European model both in its domestic and foreign behavior.

    [05] Israeli, Palestinian officials endorse political settlement of Mideast problem

    Athens, 22/07/2002 (ANA)

    A definitive political settlement of the Palestinian problem with the creation of two equal states was endorsed late Saturday by an Israeli MP and a Palestinian envoy, during a discussion on the Middle East crisis in the Cretan town of Chania.

    Naomi Chazan, a deputy from Israel's Meretz (Democratic Israel) party, and Afif Safiyeh, the Palestinian General Commissioner in Britain and the Vatican, discussed the Middle East crisis at an event coordinated by Athens News Agency (ANA) managing director Nicolas Voulelis, which was held in the context of the 4th festival of nationalities.

    Chazan, in her opening remarks, said that the primary duty was to find a correct and viable solution.

    "The Palestinians have a fundamental right: To have their own state, next to the state of Israel," she said.

    She warned that, today, extremists had taken control in both the Palestinian and Israeli societies, but was adamant that "we will not allow the extremists to win", and called on the international community to undertake initiatives to resolve the Palestinian problem.

    Safiyeh endorsed the creation of a state of Palestine as well as the "civilized coexistence" of Israelis and Palestinians.

    He added that Greece, which is slated to assume the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2003, could play a decisive role in this effort.

    Opening the discussion, Voulelis noted that "the events set in motion after September 11, 2001, have radically altered developments in the Middle East conflict" and "terrorism has overshadowed the Middle East conflict, obscuring the real facts".

    "Following September 11, the Israeli government's full alignment with the global campaign against terrorism launched by the Bush government and the strategy it is following domestically aim at delegitimizing the Palestinian Authority, its leadership, and the Palestinian movement in general and its gradual re-classification under the general category of terrorism," he said.

    "The Palestinian issue is not a matter of security or terrorism, but that of the unfulfilled national expectations of a people, which, however, should be approached on the basis of equity and equality, in other words with recognition also of the inalienable rights of another people, the Jewish people, to also live in a state with internationally recognized and secure borders," Voulelis continued.

    "The goal is not more blood and more dead. Because that way a solution will never be found that satisfies both sides. The goal is the rejection of the rationale of bloodshed, the culture of violence that tends to spread in both communities and raise insurmountable barriers to communication and coexistence between the two peoples," he explained.

    "In the Middle East, what is at stake are the land, the territories and their possession. The continuing occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel failed to ensure the security of Israeli citizens, regardless of how many walls are put up and of whether the Palestinian cities remain cut off. The perpetuation of the occupation also corrupts Israeli society itself," Voulelis added.

    "If the occupation is not fully ended and the conditions for these two sovereign states are not ensured," he warned, "there will be no peace in the Middle East but, rather, more violence and destabilization in this region and beyond".

    [06] Health minister visits hospitals in Tripoli

    Athens, 22/07/2002 (ANA)

    Health Minister Costas Stefanis inspected two hospitals in the city of Tripoli on Saturday, the Panarkadian Hospital and the Tripoli Psychiatric Hospital.

    After the visit, he told reporters that the state of the two hospitals was satisfactory and that huge improvements had been made that would help upgrade the quality of healthcare for the entire district.

    At the same time, he conceded that the present situation was still far from perfect, despite important improvements in the infrastructure and organizational structure.

    He particularly stressed the role of the two hospitals in the Regional Health Service (PESY) and praised the efforts of staff at the city's psychiatric hospital to de-institutionalize patients and move them to guest houses, leaving hospital space free for more serious cases.

    [07] Tsovolas vs. airport: DHKKI leader misses flight after refusing body search

    Athens, 22/07/2002 (ANA)

    Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas was up in arms on Saturday after he was forced to miss his flight by Athens airport security staff, who insisted that he submit to a body search.

    Arriving late for an engagement on the island of Crete, an incensed Tsovolas blasted the airport's German management and railed against the ''breakdown of the country's territorial integrity''.

    ''In 25 years as a politician, this is the first time I have met with such treatment. They wanted to carry out a body search on me just minutes before we were due to board the bus for the plane, even though they knew that I am a party leader,'' he said. Tsovolas refused and thus missed his flight, arriving in Hania on a later plane.

    During a press conference held in Hania, Tsovolas also referred to the recent developments in the fight against terrorism and the breakthroughs regarding the urban guerrilla group ''November 17''.

    He said his party wanted plenty of light to be cast on the entire affair and condemned terrorism ''whether it be state or private''.

    In answer to Tsovolas' complaints, the airport public relations office contacted the Athens News Agency and said that it was following strict security guidelines that conformed to international regulations and had been approved by both Parliament and the Greek Civil Aviation Authority.

    ''As a part of these measures, which aim to prevent acts of terrorism and ensure passenger safety, everyone boarding an aircraft, whether on a domestic or international flight, must undergo certain checks.''

    The only people exempt from such checks, the airport added, were heads of state and government.

    [08] UK producer says Britons support return of Parthenon Marbles

    NEW YORK, 22/07/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)

    This would be a favorable time for a Greek-UK agreement to transfer the Parthenon Marbles to Greece since UK public opinion and UK politicians were in favor of their return, noted British producer and commentator William Stewart told an international conference to discuss the ancient sculptures in New York on Friday.

    The conference was held as part of the 80th annual American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) Supreme Convention, which was held here for the first time in 34 years in a show of support of the city and the victims of the September 11 terror attack.

    Among other speakers addressing the meeting were Fairfield University Professor Catherine Schwab, the head of the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum Committee Dr. Dimitrios Pantermalis and others.

    Two of the speakers, Yeshiva University Dean David Rudenstine and Greek-American lawyer Mihalis Reppas from Florida, analyzed the legal aspects of the Marbles' ownership.

    The conference was also attended by representatives from a number of organizations around the world that have campaigned for the Marbles return.

    [09] Memorials and rallies mark invasion anniversary

    NICOSIA, 22/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The wailing of air-raid sirens across the island broke the silence at dawn on Saturday, marking the 28th anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion. With flags flying half-mast in the free areas of the Republic, Greek Cypriots flocked churches, where memorial services for those who fell and prayers for those missing were held.

    Political parties also held rallies on Saturday evening.

    Speaking at memorial services, Minister of Defense Socratis Hasikos said the political leadership of the island is united in its response to Turkish provocations and threats that ''we will not succumb to blackmail that will lead to accepting the results of the invasion and occupation''.

    He said the Republic was silently upgrading its defense capability, with Greece at its side, because this was ''the only way to safeguard peace and prevent Turkey's adventurous actions''.

    Hasikos noted that in the framework of the Joint Defense Pact between Greece and Cyprus, the National Guard potential was being enhanced on a continuous basis, because ''the road to Europe passes through a strong defense that will safeguard freedom, peace and stability on the island''.

    Greek politicians had arrived in Cyprus to attend memorials and demonstrations, including Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Tassos Giannitsis and senior parliament officials.

    [10] Giannitsis assures Greece will continue to support Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 22/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis assured on Sunday that Greece would remain a supporter of Cypriot Hellenism, in its effort for a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Speaking at a memorial service for those killed during the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island, Giannitsis said that, apart from strengthening Cyprus' defense through the Joint Defense Pact between the two countries, Greece will not spare any efforts towards finding a viable solution of the Cyprus problem, which will reunify the island and will provide for the return of all refuges to their homes.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

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