July 3, 2002

3 July 2002: Twenty-seven years after the first deadly strike of the phantom November 17 (17N) terrorist group, Greek police declare that they have finally discovered the organisation's central operational headquarters following the arrest of an alleged 17N member who was injured in a botched bombing three days earlier. The breakthrough in the erstwhile fruitless, investigations occurred when police raided a ground-level Patmou Street apartment in Athens' Kato Patissia district. The key finds retrieved from the small hideout included the notorious 17N red banner and the 'stamp' used on the group's proclamations, a computer and an extensive arms cache, comprising a .38-calibre pistol, two bazookas, explosives, disguises, bombs and rockets'- some stolen in a high-profile 17N raid at the Sikourio, Larissa, military camp in central Greece at Christmas 1989. Police linked the discovery of the hideout to the June 29 capture of iconographer Savvas Xiros (L),

the 40-year-old son of a Greek Orthodox priest, picked up when a makeshift bomb exploded in his hands in the port of Piraeus. Xiros had ostensibly rented the Patmou Street hideaway about eight years ago under a false name. Xiros' capture led to a series of real and metaphorical smoking guns that eventually produced convictions of the group's members by the end of 2003. Fingerprints linked Xiros to the '97 terrorist murder of shipowner Costas Peratikos, while a gun stolen from a slain policeman was found in a travelbag near the explosion site on June 29. Within two months from the capture and interrogation of Xiros in hospital, 17 more terrorist suspects were remanded in custody, including Xiros' two brothers, Christodoulos (R),and Vassilis (2nd L), as well as Alexandros Yotopoulos, the group's alleged mastermind. The fugitive operational chief of 17N, Dimitris Koufodinas (C), finally surrendered in October 2002 to sit in the same dock with his 18 codefendants in March 2003.

Dimitris Yannopoulos

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(Posting date 18 August 2006 )

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