Balkans: December 8, 2003


Is this an end to 27 years of violence and crime? We'll see. Greece convicted several members of the notorious November 17 Communist terrorist group, 15 to be exact. The 15 were responsible for over 2500 crimes. The Greek government tried 19 members. Four member were acquitted of criminal and terrorism charges. While November 17 liked to call itself a guerrilla group, it never had mass political appeal. It operated as a cadre of assassins that liked to killed Turkish diplomats. British and American embassy personnel were also frequent targets. Add strings of bank robberies and hijackings and November 17 became an all around dangerous Balkan criminal organization operating under the cover of a radical political agenda. November 17 claimed to have committed 23 assassinations beginning in 1975. The central figure in November 17, Greek mathematician Alexandros Giotopoulos, was convicted of 961 different criminal and terrorism charges. Among them was the 2000 murder of British military attach Brigadier Stephen Saunders. Giotopoulos "masterminded" Saunders murder. He also handled the organizations cash. Giotopoulos' life follows the path of a lot of European radicals. His parents were Trotskyites and he got involved in radical left politics in the early 1960s. Brigadier Saunders' killer was another November 17 member, Dimitris Koufodinas (nicknamed "Poison Hand"). Koufodinas was implicated in 17 assassinations. His "civilian occupation?" Beekeeper. (Austin Bay)


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