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Life Terms Requested for Greek Terrorists

December 10, 2003

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ A Greek prosecutor asked an anti-terrorism tribunal Wednesday to hand down multiple life sentences against the mastermind, chief gunman and other members of the November 17 group, held responsible for nearly two dozen murders in 27 years.

Prosecutor Christos Lambrou asked the court to sentence Alexandros Giotopoulos, 59, the leader of the group, and Dimitris Koufodinas, the main hit man, to multiple life sentences. He also asked for life sentences against at least two others.

On Monday, the three-member tribunal convicted Giotopoulos, Koufodinas, and 13 other members of the November 17 terrorist group, blamed for armed robberies, hundreds of bombings and 23 killings since 1975. Four defendants were acquitted because of lack of evidence.

``Their longterm activity denied the victims of their lives ... harmed the economy and darkened the image of the country,″ Lambrou told the court.

Lambrou is expected to make sentencing recommendations for all 15 convicted November 17 members. The court is then expected to recess until Monday because of a two-day lawyers’ strike to press the government for more benefits.

The court had to recess twice after Koufodinas and Christodoulos Xiros, another convicted hit man, accused Lambrou of being a ``fascist″ after he said that November 17 carried out armed robberies to enrich its members.

November 17 is said to have netted about $2 million in a series of armed robberies carried out since the early 1980s.

``Their crimes are not political, they are common crimes ... They killed to get rich,″ Lambrou said.

November 17 was named after the date of a student-led uprising in 1973 which helped topple the 1967-74 military dictatorship.

One of Europe’s last Marxist-inspired terror groups, November 17 also had a nationalist edge and its targets included Greek officials linked to the junta, which mercilessly persecuted its leftist opponents. It also struck at military and diplomatic envoys from the United States, which backed the junta and remains an object of scorn by many Greeks.

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