ATHENS – After promising to end furloughs for violent criminals, the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA instead allowed another two-day holiday for jailed terrorist Dimitris Koufodinas, one of the leaders of the disbanded November 17 group that killed 23 people, including five Americans during a long reign.
Koufodinas got his second holiday in three months, walking out of Greece’s allegedly high-security Korydallos Prison the morning of Feb. 9 despite previous fury over his first furlough from the United States, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
He said he wanted to get his beekeeping business going again and spend time with his family although those of his victims cannot and had pleaded against leniency for November 17 assassins.
Koufodinas, 60, was the group’s hitman and planned the murders in what it said was an attempt to overthrow interests in the country they didn’t like and destabilize the government, which didn’t work.
He is restricted to his home area of Varnavas in northeastern Attica and must report at the local police stations twice a day and promise to go back to jail although other terrorists released for furloughs absconded before being caught.
New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose brother-in-law Pavlos Bakoyiannis was assassinated by November 17, said he will end furloughs for violent criminals if he takes power with polls showing he has double-digit leads over SYRIZA, which is riddled with terrorist and anarchist elements and see Koufodinas as a darling to their cause.
Mitsotakis’ sister, New Democracy lawmaker Dora Bakoyannis, was the wife of Bakoyannis, who was gunned down outside his downtown Athens office in 1989.
“No matter how many time he gets out, Greek society and the notion of justice will continue to be severely offended. The families of the victims will never forget and we know we are not alone,” Bakoyannis tweeted.
Koufodinas’s lawyer, Ioanna Kourtovik, said that the relatives of the victims have no say on her client’s leave and that this furlough is “in the context of normality. I hope that in the future you will also realize this normality,” she told reporters.
With victim’s families being unable to even plead for him to stay in jail, the furlough could have been blocked by a prosecutor but it was allowed even though SYRIZA, after taking heat for Koufodinas’ first release, during which he was spotted dining out, said it would stop the practice under which any criminal in a Greek jail can petition for vacations.
The US State Department again condemned the new the 48-hour leave of Koufodinas, commenting that “we fundamentally believe that convicted terrorists do not deserve a vacation from prison,” but took no other action.
Koufodinas is serving 11 life sentences for his role in a string of fatal attacks by the Marxist terrorist group that was dismantled by Greek authorities in 2002 with the 2004 Olympic Games approaching and Greece then under intense pressure to improve security.
New Democracy Vice President Adonis Georgiadis also criticized the decision and said it transparently showed SYRIZA’s support of terrorists. “They are no even keeping up the pretenses anymore,” Georgiadis tweeted.