BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Jane O'Brien
"A soldier of peace"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 15:03 GMT 16:03 UK
Brigadier's body flown home

The draped coffin is put onto a plane in Athens
The body of Brigadier Stephen Saunders, the military attache shot dead in Athens, has been flown home to Britain.

The Greek government has pledged to double the reward for information leading to the capture of November 17, the guerilla group which gunned down the father-of-two.

Brigadier Stephen Saunders
Brigadier Saunders was shot four times
The reward, which now stands at one billion drachma - about two million pounds - is the result of growing international pressure to catch the killers.

Greece has also told Britain that it wants to see a European Union-wide initiative to combat terrorism.

Brigadier Saunders, 52, was shot dead by two people on a motorbike as he drove to work at the British Embassy in Athens last week.

Greek guerrilla group November 17 admitted carrying out the killing, saying it was because of his role in the Kosovo conflict.

Guard of honour

The diplomat's murder is said to have struck a chord with the Greek people, like no other November 17 killing has.

His wife Heather's brave public statement after his murder, saying how it had affected the family, served to heighten public outrage.

Heather Saunders in tears
Heather Saunders: 'Stephen was my life'
Mrs Saunders and her eldest daughter accompanied the coffin back to Gatwick airport on Tuesday evening.

The plane was met by ministers from the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

A guard of honour from the brigadier's old regiment, the Royal Gloucester, Berkshire and Wiltshire regiment, was also present as soldiers carried his coffin from the plane.

Mounting pressure

International pressure has been mounting for the authorities to crack down on a group which has carried out a 25-year campaign without seeing a single member jailed.

Scotland Yard officials are currently in Athens liaising with the Greek authorities in their efforts to catch the gunmen.

Embassy officials are hopeful that the genuine public outrage felt, coupled with official anxieties about keeping the 2004 Olympics in Greece, could this time make a difference.

As well as a European initiative with Britain, Greece says it is also ready to sign an agreement with the United States on better co-operation between the two countries' police and security services.

The United States has for many years offered a reward of $4m to catch November 17, without success.

Brigadier Saunders' widow has requested that her husband be buried with full military honours at his funeral at Salisbury Cathedral next week.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories