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Greek Businessman Assassinated; Terrorists Claim Responsibility

March 1, 1988

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Two men riding a motorbike shot and killed a Greek industrialist today as he drove to work in the capital, police said.

A left-wing terrorist group that staged an almost identical slaying of a U.S. Navy officer at the same Athens intersection in 1983 claimed responsibility for the assassination, authorities said.

Alexandros Athanassiadis, 59, died of chest and stomach wounds from bullets that were fired through his car’s open window while it was stopped at a red light on Kifissias Avenue, a police spokesman said.

The spokesman, who requested anonymity, said the gunmen sped away and the motorbike was found abandoned.

Doctors at the Hygeia Hospital said Athanassiadis died during surgery.

″He had multiple wounds in the chest and stomach. We tried heart massage for 15-20 minutes, but couldn’t revive him,″ Dr. Vassilis Georgoulis said.

Athanassiadis was chief executive officer of the Hellenic Chemical Products and Fertilizers company.

The terrorist organization November 17 claimed responsibility for his killing in leaflets found in the street, the police spokesman said.

The typewritten leaflet said the organization killed Athanassiadis because ″he was a classic capitalist...indifferent to the health of the workers and the environment.″

The leaflet claimed that Hellenic Chemical Products, which has a plant in a western industrial suburb of Athens, was a major contributor to pollution. It also criticized the government, saying it had led Greece into ″economic, social and cultural crisis.″

A government statement expressed ″deepest sorrow and condolences″ and said the Greek ″people as a whole condemn such terrorist actions.″

Athanassiadis’ wife, Katerina, told reporters her husband drove the same route to work every morning from their home in the Ekali suburb. ″He hadn’t told me of anything suspicious,″ she said.

The police spokesman said the assailants pulled up beside Athanassiadis’ car and tapped on the passenger side window. As it opened, they started firing. The attack took place at 8:15 a.m., he said.

The shooting occurred at the same junction where a U.S. Navy officer was gunned down by the same terrorist group in November 1983, the spokesman said.

The Navy officer, Capt. George Tsantes, was attached to the U.S. Embassy in Athens. His driver also died in the attack.

″It was a carbon copy of the Tsantes killing - the same traffic light, the same method with two men on a motorbike,″ the police spokesman said.

November 17 has claimed responsibility for a dozen attacks against Americans, Greek police officers and businessmen since 1975. None of its members has been arrested.

The left-wing group is named for the day in 1973 when troops and tanks crushed a student rebellion against the 1967-74 military dictatorship.

November 17 says American bases in Greece should be closed and that Premier Andreas Papandreou’s socialist government has failed to change Greek society.

Before today, the group had staged three attacks over the past year, none of which resulted in deaths. In April and August the group claimed responsibility for remote-control bomb blasts against buses carrying American military personnel, but in each case the bomb exploded prematurely.

The group’s most recent attempt involved a failed bomb attack in January against a U.S. Embassy staff member.

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