Marking Date, Mitsotakis Cites Greek Student Killed by Nov. 17 Terrorists

(Photo by Eurokinissi/Georgia Panagopoulou)

ATHENS – In a shot at the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA who had elements supporting jailed former Nov. 17 terror group killer Dimitris Koufodinas, new Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted remembrances of one of its victims, student Thanos Axarlian.

He died after being hit by shrapnel from a rocket fired at the car of then-Finance Minister Yiannis Palaiocrassas on July 14, 1992 in the busy downtown area of the Greek capital, at the corner of Voulis and Karageorgi Servias Streets, the roar of the explosion setting off a panic in the area.

“It was 27 years ago that Thanos Axarlian was murdered by the N17 terrorist organization. We will never forget him,” Mitsotakis wrote.

Koufodinas was one of the leaders of Nov. 17 which killed 23 people, including five Americans attached to the US Embassy over the years and could get conditional release in September under a law passed by SYRIZA under former Premier Alexis Tsipras in one of his last acts before being ousted by New Democracy in July 7 snap elections.

The law allows terrorists to seek conditional release for house arrest and electronic bracelet monitoring unless it is overturned by the new government which had been ferociously critical of SYRIZA’s leniency toward anarchists and terrorists.

After he was accidentally killed, Nov. 17 told a newspaper that it was sorry for his death but that he was a “security loss” and collateral damage in the group’s war on the state before it was disbanded ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

That came under intense international pressure to make sure the games were and a key part of the successful effort to take apart the group was Michaelis Chrysochoidis, now the Citizens Protection Minister, who vowed to make the streets safe from rampaging anarchists critics said were mollycoddled by Tsipras and SYRIZA.

In April, 2003, in his only sign of contrition since the trial of Nov. 17 leaders had begun, Koufodinas, the group’s chief assassin, accepted only “political responsibility” for the death of Axarlian.

“I would like to express my deep sorrow,” he said in a low voice devoid of its usual rage, said Kathimerini at the time, during an interval in the testimony of the victim’s mother, Stavroula Axarlian, who didn’t accept the apology.

“They do not concern me. For me, these people do not exist,” she said, telling the court that her son was “sacrificed” by the terrorists movement. “I have waited long for this moment, for I have never spoken on the matter. Thanos was a boy who could have offered a lot to society. After the attack, I appealed for (Nov. 17) to stop… Syntagma Square is a central spot. They did not want to kill my son alone, but a lot of people,” she said.

Another Nov. 17 member, Constantinos Telios, who admitted to being present at the attack, said he was sorry and that it was an accident as they wanted to kill Palaiokrassas instead but missed when his car took a wide turn onto a side street.

“There is no doubt that they tried to kill me,” the then-finance chief said. Asked by presiding judge Michalis Margaritis whether the attack was of political and aimed at changing the government at the group had claimed then, Palaiokrass said: “Definitely not. The only result would have been to burden the State with the cost of my funeral.”