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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Greece exults in terror group arrests
Vassilis (left) and Christodoulos Xiros (right, in flak jackets) come out of the prosecutor's office escorted by police
Until this month there had been no arrests
Greek newspapers give blanket coverage to the new arrests of suspected members of the terrorist organisation, November 17 (17N), including the 60-year-old professor, who, it is thought, could be its leader.

Alexandros Giotopoulos was seized in a helicopter swoop by a counter-terrorist squad on a remote Aegean island and taken to Athens for questioning.

The independent daily To Vima describes the scene when he was identified by another arrested man, Khristodoulos Xiros, as the group's leader.

"The 60-year-old founder of 17N looked at him with dislike," it says.

Mentor

In an another report, the newspaper sketches how the professor's role may have changed as he grew older.


So far, the authorities have made use of only a small fraction of the evidence they have gathered regarding the terrorists' activities

I Kathimerini
"He lived a worldly life, trapped however in a theory which made him exist for himself and his circle. When the new generations of 17N emerged, Giotopoulos could play the role of mentor," it says.

The left-of-centre Ta Nea also highlights the authorities' conviction that Mr Giotopoulos was personally and directly involved in the early 17N murders and subsequently kept a close personal link with the activities.

It quotes a former friend of his, Andreas Staikos, who says that 17N could have been an important political organisation, but went astray.

"It ended up a slapdash organisation, which was a discredit to the original organisation. 17N was adulterated and Giotopoulos lost control," he says.

Jackal links

Many papers discuss the professor's family background, noting that his father was a well-known Marxist who ended up breaking with Stalin and shifting to the right.


Greece was the only EU member state which had not shown success in the counter-terrorism field

Elevtheros Tipos
More than one also draws parallels between 17N and the activities of Carlos the Jackal. The independent daily I Khora suggests that links could even have existed between them.

There is also speculation about possible connections between 17N and Greek or foreign security services.

The independent conomic daily Imerisia reports that Mr Yiotopoulos complained, as he was brought into custody, that the secret services had "sold me out".

It also says the authorities have confirmed that Mr Giotopolos wrote the proclamation issued by 17N following the murder of the British diplomat, Brigadier Stephen Saunders.

More to come

The left-of-centre daily Ethnos predicts that this is only the beginning of the unravelling of 17N and that there could be as many as 50 arrests in the end.

The independent I Kathimerini takes up the same theme.

"So far, the authorities have made use of only a small fraction of the evidence they have gathered regarding the terrorists' activities," it says.

The reporter expresses his certainty that "soon the whole historical leadership of 17N will be identified" and that further investigations will be made into the other terrorist organisations operating on Greek soil.

Triumph

Many papers see the arrests as a triumph for democracy.

"Democracy has won - albeit after 27 years," declares Imerisia in a headline.

The right-wing daily Elevtheros Tipos says apart from Greece, all other EU member states had shown success in the counter-terrorism field.

Finally Greece has joined the rest of Europe, it says.


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