ATHENS – Despite condemnation from the United States over his release, a leading member of the Nov. 17 terrorist group which killed five Americans returned to a high-security prison after his third two-day vacation from jail.
Dimitris Koufodinas had gone on a hunger strike for almost two weeks because authorities refused to give him a leave of absence from prison before relenting after pressure from anarchists who attacked a number of sites around the Capital in support of him.
The United Kingom and Turkey, who also had victims among the 23 people murdered by Nov. 17 in its lost cause to push a revolution before being disbanded in 2002, joined the US in denouncing the furlough that was given despite promises by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to stop furloughs for violent criminals.
His party is riddled with anarchist and terrorist sympathizers and he has said nothing more about Koufodinas continuing to get furloughs.
There was no word on whether the assassin would go on a hunger strike again to get another vacation and he also has demanded prosecutors no longer should be able to keep him from getting out when he wants so he can visit his family and restart a beekeeping business.
The group, which first appeared when its members assassinated the CIA station chief in Athens, Richard Welch, in December 1975, remained elusive until 2002, until one of its members was arrested after a botched bomb attack that year and Koufodinas turned himself in.
Heis serving 11 life sentences plus 25 years for participating in 11 of the 23 assassinations conducted by the group. Under Greek law, anyone in jail is eligible for a furlough, including terrorists, murderers and others no matter how heinous the crime they committed but there were no reports anyone other than he has been getting out.
Piling on the disdain for Greek authorities giving a third 48-hour furlough for convicted November 17 terror group assassin Dimitris Koufodinas, whose group’s 23 victims included five Americans, the US State Department said terrorists should not “get a vacation” from jail.
“We would once again like to condemn the release of a convicted terrorist,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told journalists at regular press briefing at almost the same time US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, speaking at an investment meeting in Greece, said the country was “a pillar of stability in the region,” a mantra he repeats every time he gets a chance.
The US Embassy also denounced the release of Koufodinas but not Pyatt, who didn’t speak out about it as he did when the killer got two earlier breaks from jail. Koufodinas won another by going on a hunger strike and getting anarchists to back him with a series of violent assaults on a range of targets in Athens.
Nauert reminded that Koufodinas has been convicted of the murders of US embassy Defence Attache William Nordeen in 1988 and US Air Force Sergeant Ronald Stewart in 1991.
“These furloughs serve as an incentive for his followers to commit further violent and destructive acts in his name. Our embassy in Athens has conveyed our serious concerns about this decision to the Greek government. Terrorists should not get a vacation from jail,” she added.