June 7, 1965

7 June 1965: The army general staff announces disciplinary measure, against several middle-ranking officers accused of involvement- in a clandestine military pressure group called ASPIDA (or 'shield', the initials standing for Officers Save Fatherland, Ideals, Democracy, Meritocracy). Military investigator Lt-Gen loannis Simos issued a report on June 1 in which he played down the influence of the group as nothing more than a loose association of 'over-ambitious and self­opinionated' personnel seeking to enhance their careers and chances of promotion by lobbying the government of George Papandreou's ruling Centre Union.

Former state intelligence (KYP) corporal Aris Bouloukos was remanded in custody on June 28 awaiting court martial as a founding member of ASPIDA. Another 15 officers were court-martialed on the same charges a year later. But in late May 1965, the rightwing opposition press was already clamoring with allegations of a fully-fledged conspiracy by left-leaning officers and politicians, ostensibly headed by the premier's son, Andreas Papandreou, then deputy economy minister, 'aiming for the subversion of democracy and a communist takeover of the military'. These unfounded allegations were nevertheless endorsed by conservative stalwarts of the' Papandreou administration, including the royalist defence minister, Petros Garoufalias. More ominously, the same charges were immediately adopted by youthful King Constantine, 24, who sent a letter to the 73-year-old prime minister on June 8, demanding his firm handling of the ASPIDA ring, 'which has threatened to establish a dictatorship of the most despicable kind'. The stage was thereby set for the clash between the elected government and the monarchy, which culminated in the resignation of the former a month 'later The photo depicts Andreas Papandreou (2nd row, C) attending the ASPIDA trial in a show of solidarity with the accused officers. He is flanked by leading Centre Union MPs Andreas Kokkevis (L) and loannis Alevras and Agamemnon Koutsogiorgas (R)

Dimitris Yannopoulos

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(Posting date 29 June 2006 )

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