Former Marxist group leader Dimitris Koufodinas who is currently serving 11 life sentences has been granted a two-day furlough, a move lambasted by the international community.
Reports reveal that prison authorities granted his request for the furlough on the condition he reports to a police station twice a day. This is Koufodinas’s first leave since he was jailed in 2003.
17 November operated for over 30 years until their capture in 2002 by Greek authorities and sent to trial in 2003. Koufodinas, 59, has since been serving time in the high security prison Koridallos in Athens.
The group was found guilty of bomb attacks and for the killing of 23 prominent Greek authority figures, including Ministers and diplomats from the US, Turkey and Britain.
Greece’s National Association of Prison Wardens said Koufodinas had earned the right to request a leave, AP reported.
“Dimitris Koufodinas has had no disciplinary infringement while in prison and has met all the conditions required for a furlough,” the association said.
“There should be an end to disputes over (rights) that are self-evident,” the wardens groups said. “The law must be upheld.”
The move is met with great concerns from the international community, considering the tense state of political relations and security worldwide.
Spokesperson for the US Department of State, Heather Nauert condemned the move by Greece for Koufodinas’s 2-day release and was of tremendous concern to the US, labelling him a “convicted terrorist”.
“Our embassy in Athens has conveyed our serious concerns about this decision to the government of Greece,” Ms Nauert said at a press briefing on Thursday.
Ms Nauert said Koufodinas was convicted on multiple murders including those of William Nordeen, a defence attaché at the US Embassy and also US airforce sergeant Ronald Stuart.
Spokesperson Nauert said some of November 17 members have previously disappeared when released on furlough from prison.
Order of AHEPA also conveyed its disapproval “in the strongest terms” of the release in a tweet today.
US Ambassador to Greece Geoffery Pyatt said: “I add my voice to those from across Greece’s political spectrum deploring prison council decision to release a convicted terrorist, murderer and N17 leader,” he said in a tweet on Thursday.
“Our democracies rest on independent judicial institutions, but today’s furlough dishonors the victims memory and their families.”