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November 17 Claims Attack On Former Greek Minister

May 9, 1989

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The November 17 terrorist group today claimed responsibility for a bomb that wounded a former Socialist Cabinet minister.

The Marxist group said in a typewritten letter to the Eleftherotypia newspaper that it sought to punish George Petsos for his alleged involvement in a multimillion dollar financial scandal rocking the Socialist government.

November 17 said that Petsos ″insults and mocks the Greek people under the protection of parliamentary immunity, since neither justice nor Parliament can or wants to touch him.″

The 42-year-old Socialist Party member was injured when a booby-trapped car exploded next to his automobile on Monday as he was being driven to his central Athens office. He was taken to a hospital where doctors removed glass shards from his face and upper body. His injuries were not serious. Two police officers escorting Petsos were also slightly injured in the blast.

Petsos was dropped from the Cabinet during a reshuffle in March when Premier Andreas Papandreou tried to rid his government of ministers accused of involvement in a $200 million swindle at the Bank of Crete.

The bank’s former chairman, George Koskotas, fled the country in November after being charged with fraud, forgery and embezzlement and is being held in a Salem, Mass., jail pending a hearing for his extradition to Greece.

In interviews he has accused Papandreou and other senior Socialist officials of taking kickbacks and being directly involved in the scandal.

The premier has denied the allegations, but eight Cabinet members have either resigned or been fired because of the scandal, including Papandreou’s No. 2 two man, Agamemnon Koutsogiorgas. Under Greek law parliamentarians have immunity from prosecution while they remain deputies.

″We decided to execute the second in line after Koutsogiorgas,″ the November 17 letter said. ″Unfortunately the people’s swindler and thief George Petsos was very lucky.″

The elusive urban terrorist group has claimed 13 killings and numerous bombings in the past 13 years. Its victims have included three senior U.S. officials, several Greek businessmen, publishers and police officers.

The group first surfaced with the assassination of Athens CIA station chief Richard Welch in 1975. It also claimed the killing in June 1988 of U.S. Defense Attache William E. Nordeen in an attack police descibed as ″practically identical″ to the one against Petsos.

November 17 is named after the day in 1973 when tanks and troops crushed a student uprising against the 1967-74 military dictatorship at the Athens Polytechnic University. None of its members has ever been arrested. It aims to overthrow the state through armed revolution and establish a Marxist regime.