ATHENS — A monthslong hunger strike by a jailed hit guy for Greece’s deadliest terrorist group has fueled vehement debate right here about the convict’s rights, with street protests and a barrage of arson attacks as a political battle about him intensifies.
The hit guy, Dimitris Koufodinas, 63, is serving eleven daily life sentences and started his hunger strike on Jan. eight, soon after the authorities rejected his demand for a prison transfer. He was imprisoned for his position in the routines of a far-leftist guerrilla group regarded as November 17 that was energetic from 1975 to 2002.
The group killed 23 folks, like a C.I.A. station chief in Athens, a British military attaché and a number of Greek businessmen, as properly as Pavlos Bakoyannis, the brother-in-law of the latest conservative prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Mr. Koufodinas had requested a transfer from a prison in central Greece to the Korydallos Prison in Athens, exactly where he was initially incarcerated in 2003 along with other members of November 17. He was moved into his latest jail from a reduced-protection facility in December.
The conservative government has refused to give in, accusing the convicted guy — who has effectively utilised hunger strikes in the previous to press his demands — of blackmail.
A statement issued by Mr. Mitsotakis’s workplace on Saturday, shortly soon after health professionals signaled that Mr. Koufodinas’s overall health had significantly deteriorated, mentioned the government would not allow “preferential therapy and violations of the law.”
As the standoff intensified, Mr. Koufodinas’s attorney, Ioanna Kourtovik, on Wednesday accused the government of vindictive and unlawful techniques, saying she had lodged a legal appeal for her client’s sentence to be suspended. “His daily life is at danger,” she advised Greek tv.
The government’s tough line and the convict’s deteriorating overall health have caught the focus of leftist sympathizers and the Greek establishment.
As his hunger strike entered its 54th day on Tuesday, 1000’s of folks rallied in his help in Athens for the 2nd day in a row. Protests continued Wednesday.
The police had been out in force soon after a spate of vandalism by anarchists expressing solidarity with Mr. Koufodinas. Police stations in the capital have been pelted with homemade firebombs practically day by day for the previous two months.
The subject has dominated social media in Greece. Various attorneys, academics and journalists have complained that their Facebook accounts have been limited soon after they posted images of rallies in help of Mr. Koufodinas or expressed help for his rights.
The challenge has divided Greek judges, with the country’s union calling on the government to evaluation its stance as other judges insist on impartiality. The family members of November 17’s victims, on the other hand, have asked Mr. Koufodinas to quit his hunger strike, saying it is raking up unpleasant recollections.
Opposition events have appealed to the government to transform program. The leftist Syriza get together warned that Greece “must not turn into the very first European nation in forty many years to have a dead hunger striker,” when the center-left Motion for Modify urged towards turning the convicted guy into a “symbol for struggle.”
Nicknamed “poison hand” by the Greek media, Mr. Koufodinas is an unlikely martyr, acquiring under no circumstances expressed regret for his actions with November 17. The group’s identify derives from the date in 1973 when Greece’s oppressive military dictatorship quashed a pupil uprising towards its rule, killing 23 folks.
Some terrorism specialists worry the hunger strike could spur new violence as it galvanizes Greek anti-establishment groups. “These groups are by now recruiting new members,” mentioned Mary Bossis, professor of worldwide protection at the University of Piraeus, close to Athens.
In the occasion of his death, she mentioned, “we could even see a resurgence of domestic terrorism.”
Ms. Bossis blamed the deadlock more than Mr. Koufodinas on the failure of Greek political events to attain a consensus on how to deal with terrorism and convicted terrorists.
Some opposition lawmakers have argued that a law passed by the conservatives final yr permits a prison transfer. The government has rebuffed this declare, criticizing the prior leftist administration as currently being as well lenient with Mr. Koufodinas, moving him to a reduced-protection agricultural prison in 2018 when he was granted a number of furloughs.
“Since the 1970s, events argued about how to tackle terrorists rather of searching for consensus,” Ms. Bossis mentioned. “We need to have under no circumstances reached this level.”