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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 16:28 GMT
Profile: November 17 mastermind
Alexandros Giotopoulos
Alexandros Giotopoulos denied links to the group
French-born academic Alexandros Giotopoulos has been found guilty of masterminding attacks by the Greek radical left-wing group, November 17.

He is said to be the brain behind the group's campaign of bombing, robberies and at least 23 murders since 1975.

Among those the group are thought to have killed are Greek public figures, businessmen, and foreign diplomats.

Unlike some of other defendants facing charges in Athens, Giotopoulos strongly denied any links to the group.


Until last year, police had failed to arrest a single suspect in their 27-year campaign against Europe's most elusive urban guerrilla organisation.

In June they caught one of the accused apparently trying to plant a bomb. He then informed police of the names and whereabouts of other November 17 members.

Giotopoulos was picked up on the Aegean island of Lipsi.

November 17 attacks
8 June, 2000: British defence attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders shot dead
24 January, 1994: Former National Bank Governor Michalis Vranopoulos shot dead
12 March, 1991: US Air Force Sergeant Ronald Stewart killed by a remote-controlled bomb
28 June, 1988: US naval attache Captain William Nordeen killed by a remote-controlled bomb
23 December, 1975: CIA station chief in Athens, Richard Welch, shot dead

He had been dividing his time between France and Greece and living under the assumed name Michalis Economou.

His fingerprints matched prints found in a November 17 hide-out earlier in the year.

For the investigating officers, Giotopoulos matched the profile of the brain behind the group, the "ideological instructor of the organisation and the writer of its proclamations".

Giotopoulos is the son of Dimitris Giotopoulos, a well-known 1930s Greek Communist and follower of Leon Trotsky.

He is believed to have been active in the Paris-based student opposition to the military dictatorship which ruled Greece between 1967 and 1974.


American, British and Greek authorities have for years suspected the group's leaders may have had their ideological roots in the movements that fuelled France's student revolt in May 1968.

After the fall of the junta, left-wing sentiment remained strong in Greece and defined a generation of socialist politicians.

November 17 rode a wave of anti-American sentiment that grew out of a deeply-held perception among many Greeks that the United States supported the junta.

The group named itself after the day the junta sent tanks into the Athens Polytechnic School to crush a student revolt, killing at least 13 students.

The group's first operation was the shooting of American Richard Welch, the CIA station chief in Athens, on 23 December, 1975.

Shootings, robberies and bombings continued until the killing of British defence attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders in Athens in June 2000.

Sentencing is not expected before Wednesday, but Giotopoulos is expected to receive multiple life terms.

How November 17 was cracked
19 Jul 02  |  Europe
A widow's fight for justice
08 Dec 03  |  Europe
Widow pleads for long sentences
06 May 03  |  Europe


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