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Greek Industrialist Killed by Motorbike Gunman

March 1, 1988

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ A middle-aged gunman riding on a motorbike fatally wounded the chief executive officer of a Greek chemical company as he was driving to work Tuesday. A left-wing group claimed responsibility.

A police spokesman said Alexandros Athanassiadis, 59, was hit four times in the chest and stomach as he reached for a pistol that he kept in his car.

The shooting took place at 8:15 a.m. in rush-hour traffic on Kifissias Avenue, a main highway leading north from the city center, according to the spokesman, who was not identified in line with police regulations.

He said the attack was ″a carbon copy″ of the 1983 killing of Capt. George Tsantes, a U.S. Navy officer attached to the American Embassy who was shot by two men on a motorbike at the same Kifissias Avenue intersection.

And the same terrorist group, the November 17 organization, asserted responsibility for both slayings.

The spokesman gave this account of Tuesday’s attack.

″Athanassiadis had the passenger window down and was chatting to someone in another car at a red light when two men on a motorbike came up on his right- hand side.

″A white-haired man in his 50s″ riding behind the younger, dark-haired driver fired at least six bullets at Athanassiadis from a 45-caliber pistol.

The two men turned down down a side road into the Psychico suburb where the motorbike was found abandoned.

Athanassiadis died at the Hygeia Hospital during emergency surgery, Dr. Vassilis Georgoulis said.

A typewritten note found in the street near the intersection and signed ″November 17″ said Athanassiadis was ″a classic capitalist ... indifferent to the health of the workers and the environment.″

Athanassiadis was chief executive officer of Hellenic Chemical Products and Fertilizers and also was a director of Greece’s largest holding group, the non-profit Bodossakis Foundation.

He had headed Pyrkal, an ammunition and explosives manufacturing firm, until it was taken over by Premier Andreas Papandreou’s socialist government in 1982.

The note claimed that a Hellenic Chemical Products plant in western Athens that Athanassiadis planned to expand ″holds one of the largest responsibilities″ for air pollution in the capital.

November 17 terrorists have asserted responsibility for 10 other killings since 1975. None of the slayings has been solved.

It also boasted of carrying out the remote-control bombings of two buses carrying U.S. military personnel in April and August 1987 that wounded 26 Americans and three Greeks.

Other business executives said Athanassiadis maintained a low profile, refused to hire bodyguards and always drove his own car.

″He kept a pistol beside him in the car ever since learning that he was probably on the November 17 hit list,″ said one businessmen, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

It was the first fatal attack by November 17 terrorists since February 1986 when steel magnate Dimitris Angelopoulos was shot while walking to work in central Athens.

November 17 is named for the day in 1973 that troops crushed a student rebellion against the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967-74.

In its previous declarations the group demanded the closure of U.S. military bases in Greece and said the government had failed to reform Greek society.

Government spokesman Sotiris Kostopoulos issued a statement expressing ″very deep sorrow″ at Athanassiades’ killing and saying ″the Greek people as a whole condemn such terrorist actions.″

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