Greek terrorist gets consecutive life sentences
May 9, 2007 - 11:42:41 PM

Athens, May 9 - The leader of deadly Greek terrorist group November 17, Alexandros Giotopoulos, was handed 17 consecutive life sentences by an appeal court Wednesday.

The five-member special appeals court confirmed the life sentencing of Giotopoulos, 63, along with five other key members of the extreme-left group after 18 months of hearings.

The mastermind behind the deadly group was convicted in 2003 for a series of assassinations and bombings of Greek and foreign targets between 1975 and 2000, including the 1975 assassination of the CIA station chief in Athens, Richard Welch.

He was also behind the 2000 murder of Britain's military attache Stephen Saunders and Greek conservative deputy Pavlos Bakoyiannis whose children were present in court.

Giotopoulos, a former economics teacher who fought the 1967-74 military dictatorship in Greece, said he would appeal the verdict at the European Court of Human Rights.

The group's operations chief, former beekeeper Dimitris Koufontinas and the only member to admit his role in the group's activities was given 13 life sentences for his part in the group's crimes in the 2003 trial.

November 17 was named after a student uprising against Greece's US-backed military junta in 1973.

Greek authorities began capturing members of the group after a 2002 bomb accidentally blew up in the hands of one of its two hitmen, Savvas Xiros. He and his brother Christidoulos, sons of an Orthodox priest, also had their long prison sentences confirmed by the appeals court.

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