ATHENS – After A New Democracy government vow to end the practice of furloughs for violent criminals, the leader of the disbanded November 17 terrorist group which killed 23 people was given a three-day vacation from prison.
Alexandros Giotopoulos, 78, returned to Korydallos Prison after being let out for the first time in 20 years, Greek media said, his release shocking Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis, whose father, Pavlos Bakoyannis, was gunned down by N17 in 1989.
“Was the leader of November 17 given a three-day leave? In secret? I mean, at least quietly? And on the anniversary of Thanos Axarlian’s murder? Is it true? Open and clear explanations are required,” he tweeted.
That was in reference to a 20-year-old student killed when the terror group fired a rocket at a car containing Economy Minister Yiannis Paleokrassas on July 14, 1992 on a busy street in dowtown Athens.
Giotopoulos is serving 17 life sentences plus 25 years for his crimes and running the notorious gang that operated from 1975-2002 but was broken up under international pressure ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
It wasn’t said who approved the leave or why or if he would be eligible again to get out, nor if prisoners who aren’t well known and serving time for lesser crimes are also getting furloughs.
Among the ringleaders and the main hitman was Dimitris Koufodinas, who got six vacations from jail before New Democracy took power and is serving 11 life sentences plus 25 years yet is eligible for parole in 2027.
Under a law passed by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA in the waning days of its 4 1/2-year reign before being ousted by New Democracy in July, 2019 snap elections, lifers are eligible for parole after 19 years no matter how heinous their crimes, before changes were made to make it 25 years.
Earlier this year, Koufodinas went on a 66-day hunger strike, demanding to be transferred to a prison of his choice amid criticism he has been mollycoddled to get his way.