U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - Greece

With improved counterterrorism infrastructure in place following the August 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece continued its work to fight domestic and international terrorism throughout the year. In October, the Greek Government passed a bill aimed at combating money laundering and terror finance, bringing Greek legislation in line with EU directives. Under the new legislation, the Greek Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) enjoyed broadened investigative authority; financing terrorism is defined as a predicate offense and subject to harsh penalties. Greece signed the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism in November.

Greece sustained its participation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan by continuing to provide a unit from the Greek Corps of Engineers and a NATO medical unit in Kabul. In October, Greece took the lead for security at Kabul International Airport.

Appellate courts released Christos Tsigaridas, a convicted terrorist and founding member of the domestic terrorist group People's Revolutionary Struggle (ELA), for a variety of medical conditions. The courts also suspended on medical grounds the sentence of Pavlos Serifis, a convicted member of the leftist terrorist group 17 November (17N). Serifis attracted media attention upon his release by filing a petition with the European Court of Human Rights to protest the "inhumane conditions" of his imprisonment. The Court accepted the petition, and other 17N prisoners have since lodged complaints on similar grounds. In November, another convicted ELA member, Eirini Athanassaki, had her 25-year sentence suspended unanimously by an appellate court so that she could care for her elderly and ailing parents. Despite these releases, a Greek court in October denied the plea for release on medical grounds of 17N prisoner Savvas Xiros, whose botched bombing attempt in June 2002 led to his arrest and the subsequent arrest and trial of several members of the 17N organization.

In July, after a five-month process, a second trial for members of the ELA terrorist organization resulted in acquittals for all six defendants. The court tried the defendants in connection with a 1985-1995 bombing campaign against government buildings and the 1994 bombing of a police bus that resulted in the death of an officer. Three of the six defendants were already serving 25-year sentences for other ELA offenses, which were unaffected by the acquittals. Yannis Serifis, a cousin of Pavlos Serifis and suspected terrorist leader himself who was tried and acquitted in 2003 for his ties to 17N, stood trial for the first time as a member of the ELA. Authorities alleged that Serifis was involved in the 1994 police officer's murder, but the court acquitted him on all charges due to lack of evidence.

A group appeals trial for fifteen 17N convicts and two previously acquitted individuals opened December 2. In December 2003, Greek courts had handed down multiple life sentences to key 17N members who were responsible over the years for hundreds of crimes and the murders of 13 Greeks and five U.S. Government employees. The appeals trials essentially represented a new trial for the convicts, since new facts and evidence can be introduced in the Greek judicial system. Additionally, Constantinos Avramidis, a self-confessed member of anarchist organizations, was arrested and indicted as a member of 17N in October. His trial still was not scheduled by the end of the year. Top Greek law enforcement officials maintained that further investigation of 17N suspects and evidence is ongoing, and that the case is not considered closed.

Similarly, police officials have not closed their investigation of the December 2004 killing of a Greek Special Guard at his post outside the residence of the British Defense Attaché. Greek authorities continued to regard this case as a domestic terrorist incident.

Anarchists periodically attacked what they call "imperialist-capitalist targets" with such tools as firebombs and Molotov cocktails. Since these attacks usually occurred in the middle of the night, few persons were seriously injured and there were no deaths. The perpetrators were not caught. Police have made some inroads against the anarchists; after a May incident in which anarchists threw Molotov cocktails at a police bus and stole police riot gear, police arrested two suspects in July after observing them attempting to dispose of the gear. The three suspects (another was arrested shortly thereafter) were charged on several felony counts. They remained in custody awaiting trial and were the subject of periodic demonstrations of support by the anarchist community.

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