ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s top prosecutor late Friday ordered a review of a decision to deny temporary leave from prison to a hunger-striking extremist who is serving multiple life terms for 11 murders by the country’s deadliest far-left group.
The move by supreme court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou came hours after Dimitris Koufodinas, the main hit man of the now-defunct November 17 group, was placed in intensive care due to the effects of his 15-day hunger strike. Koufodinas’ campaign to be granted a new furlough has triggered violent protests by left-wing sympathizers.
Greece’s health ministry said Koufodinas’ condition is not life-threatening, although his lawyer warned that his health is deteriorating fast.
Koufodinas was moved to intensive care for monitoring Friday in a hospital in the central town of Volos.
Following prosecutor Dimitriou’s order, supreme court judges will meet in coming days to decide whether Koufodinas’ bid for a furlough should be re-examined.
Koufodinas, 61, has vowed to continue his hunger strike “to the end” unless authorities allow him a new temporary prison leave. He had been granted six furloughs since late 2017, but last week judges ruled that he still poses a threat to society and should not be let out temporarily.
These brief leaves from prison, combined with Koufodinas’ transferal from a maximum-security Athens jail to a laxer unit near Volos, have been criticized as unduly lenient by relatives of November 17’s victims and U.S. authorities.
Professing a mixture of Marxism and nationalism, November 17 killed 23 people from 1975-2000, including Americans and other foreign diplomats.
Koufodinas has claimed “political responsibility” for the group’s acts. He was convicted in 2003 and is serving 11 life terms.
Koufodinas’ lawyer, Ioanna Kourtovik, said he could suffer kidney failure “at any moment.”
“His health has deteriorated rapidly, and he is in danger of suffering irreversible damage,” she told The Associated Press.
Kourtovik added that, according to doctors, Koufodinas has not fully recovered from a two-week hunger strike last summer, again held to press for a furlough which he eventually received.
Koufodinas’ cause has been strongly backed by Greek anarchist groups, who have mounted a series of attacks to show their support – including throwing firebombs at Athens police stations, vandalizing shops and banks, and throwing paint at the U.S. ambassador’s central Athens residence.
Anarchists have also held marches in several Greek cities, and plan a new motorcycle protest in central Athens Saturday.
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